Rutland Park residents push back against plans to sell and redevelop public land

Residents in one southwest Calgary community say park space is at a premium in their neighbourhood: so the latest nearby development application isn't sitting right with them.

The city is in the early stages of a proposal that would see part of the publicly-owned Richmond Green Park reclassified, sold and re-designated.

It would eventually be passed to a developer so it could erect a residential building with some commercial space.

But it's what that potential building would replace that has some community members up in arms.

"These two diamonds are the core diamonds for our group and in the middle of our boundary," Calgary West Little League Association Director Brent Fleming said. "Losing (them) has a significant impact on how we are able to run our association. We already are under pressure for diamonds."

The development proposal would sit on six acres at the corner of 33 Ave. S.W. and Sarcee Road.

That space is currently occupied by two heavily-utilized baseball diamonds.

If the plan is approved, those diamonds would be on their way out of the park.

That's why Fleming is throwing his voice behind a neighbourhood initiative to stop the development.

Signs calling for a halt to the rezoning already litter the site. And a recent study done by the community association shows just how many residents are against the proposal.

"In our survey, 90 per cent of the people did not want any development," Mark Yobb, with Rutland Park Community Association, said.

Councillor Evan Woolley tells CTV News if the city sells the public land to a private entity, the funds will go to improving what's left of the park and developing offset green space east of the diamonds.

Neighbours say there won't be enough room.

"This (neighbouring) green space was originally to offset that huge development (Currie Barracks), but before that's actually executed, they're already giving away this space," Yobb said. "The offset land they're proposing is not possible."

Woolley argues there's enough land.

He also is confident nearby space, formerly a city-owned golf course, can be repurposed for other uses.

Residents, including Yobb, are convinced that land can't accommodate what the city is promising, thanks to critical water infrastructure needs.

Woolley isn't seeking re-election. A candidate hoping to win his seat says the park is constantly brought up while she's campaign door knocking.

"(Residents) are really concerned that this could be a dangerous precedent for other inner-city parks and that's why they care," Natalie Winkler said. "They understand that more people are going to move to our city and our amazing city is going to grow, but that shouldn't mean selling off our public park space."

The land use change is currently under review.

There will be a virtual open house Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. where residents can have their say.

Feedback from that meeting will be compiled and put in a report for council.

To learn more about the plan, click here