WCDS

An Early History of
Centenial Park - Westsyde

We moved to Kamloops from the northern part of the Province in 2001 to retire early and enjoy the mild climate and amenities of life in Westsyde.  Little did we realize the cohesiveness of the community or the spirit that resides here, as the following story demonstrates?

On September 7, 1957 a group of interested citizens formed the Westsyde Centennial Park Association.  In 1958 the association was incorporated under the Society Act, with the objectives: to acquire and hold from the Trustees of the Westsyde 1958 Centennial Committee, the lands which have been arranged for as a park site, to develop and promote such as a park site, to raise funds, and to transfer and deliver the said park site to any Civic body corporate organized to administer the community of Westsyde B C.  Mr. E. A. Knuff, Chairman of the Westsyde Centennial Committee that year received a cheque based on the 1956 Census figures for a Westsyde population of 784 persons as 40 and 60 cents as a per capita grant.  These funds went toward acquiring land for the park and hence the name Centennial Park.

The Centennial Committee prior to, or during 1957 circulated a questionnaire, referred to as “The Westsyde Centennial Project, asking residents if your family would be in favour or against a community park to be worked on as a Centennial project and would you pay for this project by taxation, or with a contribution.  The Committee had set a fee of $10.00 per family as the amount needed to buy the land, instead of the $3.00 per person, “to make the burden more even on all shoulders.”  All monies had to be in by November 23rd of 1958.  The slogan was:  “Put a park on our slate for ’58.”

Westsyde Centennial Park became a reality with the accumulation over the years of 21 acres of land, which was accessed in 1960 with the construction of road by the Department of Highways, who charged $198.00.  In 1961 consideration was given to transferring the park into the name of B C Fruitlands Irrigation District in Trust, rather than just passing the land along from executive to executive of the Westsyde Centennial Park Association.  In 1963 the Irrigation District agreed to service the park with water from Westsyde Road, with the $120 estimated cost to be bourne as a donation.  The association got on with administering the park, by: filling in holes on the beach, restricting the removal of gravel, controlling speeding in the park, removal of barbed wire fencing and chaining and locking garbage cans.  Taxes continued to accrue against the property, as no exemption could be obtained and together with the $200 bank loan outstanding for the original purchase of the park property, the Honourable P. A. Gaglardi could not assist the association in there dilemma to circumvent the rigid rules of government, as no exceptions could be made on the payment of outstanding taxes.

In 1964 on July 20th a Jersey cow was reported to be pasturing on lands outside the park and four strands of barbed wire had been cut, “with the ends folded back” to allow this animal access to a neighbouring property.  It was believed the upkeep of the said fence was a shared responsibility and a bill was submitted to the association for $3.00, which was paid immediately on July 29th.  The next year, in 1965 Westsyde landowners where served notice jointly by the trustees of the B C Fruitlands Irrigation District and the Westsyde Centennial Park Committee that a plebiscite would be held to obtain their wishes with regard to a land tax for operation and improvements to the Westsyde Park.  The amount of the tax was $4.80 per year per landowner.  That same year Strong Lamb & Nelson Ltd, Consulting Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors were asked to draw up a plan of Westsyde Park showing the location of the Centennial Building, ball fields, kiddies playgrounds, roadways, entrance, water line and grading requirements, for a sum not to exceed the cost of $300.

Through 1966/67 the association dealt with defective fence posts, and replacement of barbed wire, an unsuccessful request to the Department of Highways for the erection of playground signage, as the park was at least ¼ mile off the highway, and the donation of a new Canadian flag. Drinking in the park was another problem and a public meeting at Arthur Stevenson School Classroom was convened.  All manner of activities were held in the park, including annual May Day Celebrations, Fairs, Parades, and joint use by the Westsyde Riding Association.  In 1969 the directors of the park were invited by the Honourable Dan Campbell, Minister of Municipal Affairs to a meeting of representative groups presenting objections to proposed rezoning of property known as Westsyde Farms for use as a Mobile Home Park.  This was resolved late in the year, when the question of taxation came to an amicable agreement between the developer and the association when each individual unit was taxed yearly at the same rate paid by homeowners within the community.  The said rate being $4.80 per year per landowner.

 In 1970 the Forest Service advised that 200 Yellow Ponderosa pine seedlings would be made available to the association for the park from the Rayleigh Forest Nursery.  That same year the Westsyde Trail Riders officially served notice that they would be officially opening their club grounds on June 21st.  The Westsyde Park Board members where invited to attend at 1:00 p.m. and refreshments would be available throughout the afternoon.  A report by the Honorable Dan Campbell, Minister of Municipal Affairs on Local Government in the Kamloops Area, resulting from a public hearing and twenty-four submissions clearly indicated the idea of one overall greater municipality as suggested by the City of Kamloops.  He then laid out certain conditions for amalgamation of those areas requesting it and the taxation that would apply.  He said there was the need for an overall Community Plan.  The Westsyde Ratepayer’s Association was submitted by Mr. Basil W. Flynn a proposal for incorporation of Westsyde as a Village, outlining the financial implications, with taxation and operating costs.

In the 1971 May Day Parade at the park two invited pioneer guests included Mr. Archie McArthur and Alice McArthur.  I live on McArthur Drive in Westsyde and it was interesting to note, these pioneers were known to many as good friends and neighbours.  Archie was born in Lobo, near London Ontario into a family of numerous brothers and sisters.  He managed to operate both a farm and work on the railway at the same time in Saskatchewan.  He first came to B C in 1911 and was employed by the Experimental Farm in Vanderhoof.  He took up farming in the Peace River area in 1933 and then moved to Kamloops in 1936.  Alice saw the light of day in Bristol, England in 1885.  Born Alice Lucas, she came to Northumberland County, Ontario in 1889 with her parents.  She grew up there, developing a talent for writing verse as a hobby.  She moved to Strongfield, Saskatchewan to look after a sick friend and met and married Archie McArthur in Harwardan, Saskatchewan living happily ever after.  They both had the good sense to settle in Westsyde in 1940 and resided at 3086 Westsyde Road.

That same year brought an enquiry from the Westsyde Ratepayers Association on whether the Regional District would purchase Westsyde Park?  The request suggested a report at the next general meeting of the association.  The Westsyde Ratepayers Association then suggested a meeting between the Parks Board, Fire Protection Board and themselves with a view to amalgamation.  Mr. G Sawada, Secretary – Treasurer of the Thompson Nicola Regional District had request information on the operational costs of the Westsyde Park and whether there was interest in turning over the park to the Regional District to administer.  The Westsyde Centennial Park Association projected population statistics, number of houses and revenues for the year’s 1971-1975.
This year saw a recreational study undertaken by the Regional District.  The Westsyde Centennial Park Association commented that they supported the regional concept of handling parks and recreation, but they felt it unfair to ask Westsyde residents their views until the official status of the area comprising the neighbourhood was to put to a vote.  They felt highly perturbed at being lumped in with Kamloops North and felt the 1966 plan for the park drawn up by Strong, Lamb and Nelson was satisfactory and it was a waste of money for the Regional District to retain them again to do up a new plan for the park.
 
July 25, 1973 saw an official agreement drawn up between the Westsyde Centennial Parks Association and the Westsyde Trail Riders for the riding club to use approximately two acres for the erection and use of a gymkhana area, provided rules and regulations were adhered too.  Negotiations also commenced with the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, the Honourable R. Williams defining under what terms the Westsyde Centennial Parks Association would provide lands in the park for a dyke right-of-way to protect both the park and Oak Hills.  The City of Kamloops became involved in this process, but generally the association wanted both sides of the dyke landscaped, traffic access to the dyke restricted, filling in of a ravine, and the acquisition of additional lands for the park
 
February 9, 1974 saw an agreement executed between the City of Kamloops and the Westsyde Centennial Park Association to transfer ownership of the Centennial Park property to the City of Kamloops.  It was conveyed in fee-simple for the consideration of $1.00, upon the following trusts, namely: the name of the park was to be known as “The Westsyde Centennial Park,” to be used and developed by the city as a park and with related activities for the use and enjoyment of the public forever.  In addition to the transfer of liability, the city covenants and a agreed to the following:

  • At is discretion caused a custodian to be hired and look after the park on a 24-hour basis, with such custodian to be living on or about the park.

 

  • To be bound with that certain agreement between the Park Association and the Westsyde Trail Riders Club.
  • Landscape the park as detailed on an attached Plan.

 

  • Within a reasonable time, but not later than two years erect at the entrance to the park lands an archway as detailed affixing a scroll inscribed with the names of the founders of the Park Association and the names of the first Board of Directors of the park, the date when the Park Association was founded and date when the park lands and chattels were formally turned over to the city with the names of the Board of Directors present at the time of the formal turning over ceremony.  The said scroll is to be inscribed with a note of thanks to the many people who have assisted in the development of the said parklands.
  • The city shall within a reasonable time landscape a sunken garden with winding paths, banks of flowers, picnic tables, benches, shade trees, water fountain, archways, checker board and like things to be used by Senior Citizens and an appropriate, attractive sign shall be erected referred to as “The Ralph Clearwater Senior Citizens’ Garden”.

 

  • The city shall erect fencing.
  • The city shall develop a park plan to include
    • Adequate lighting
    • Construct a boat launch (as per plan attached)
    • Tennis Courts
    • Electrical Wiring
    • Drinking Fountains
    • Hedges, pathways and screening
    • Plant Trees
    • Install an Adventure Playground
    • Install Barbecues, preferably of stone or brick construction
    • Pave all roads and paths.

 

Not all of these conditions have been met to this day!  Thus however concluded the transition of the park from the Westsyde Centennial Park Association to the City of Kamloops.  In handing over the Park, board Chairman Charles Neal said “The past seven months have been difficult for the board in negotiating a fair and beneficial deal for the people of Westsyde, but we feel we have succeeded in obtaining both from the provincial government and the City of Kamloops an agreement suitable to everyone”.  “To allow construction of the dike to protect the Oak Hills subdivision, we secured the following concessions from the provincial government: the allocation of $100,000 for landscaping of the dike, paving of the park roads, fencing and the restoration of the park to its former condition down to the river on both sides of the dyke; (after construction of the dyke)”.  “The city has agreed to assume the debts of the park, including a loan obtained for landscaping prior to the construction of the dyke and to hire a permanent custodian to live on the park premises”.

Pictured in the Tuesday, December 18, 1973 edition of The Kamloops News:  Turning over keys to Westsyde Centennial Park are left to right Westsyde alderman Don Couch, City Council recreation alderman Gordon Bregoliss, Alan Dennis, Frank Dale-Johnson, Doug Dawes of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Gordon Nicol accepting the keys from the Westsyde recreation head Charlie Neal, Dean Mason, Mrs. Margaret Johnson and Dave Johnson.  The City and Westsyde recreation representatives gather at the park yesterday, (Monday, December 17, 1973) for the brief ceremony marking the official handing over of the park to the city as a result of amalgamation.

This story is a testament to the dedication, interest and involvement of those residents who lived in Westsyde.  It is through groups like the Volunteer Fire Board, the Westsyde Ratepayers Association, the Westsyde Centennial Parks Association and other like-minded community groups that through their actions our lives are all made progressively better.  This activism continues to be carried on today through the participation, involvement and supported of residents who live in the Westsyde community.  To this day, there are only two parks in Westsyde, Rainbow Park, and the largest, Centennial Park.  We could ask ourselves the question, what if the original community minded individuals had not got involved and develop the idea of a Westsyde park, back in 1957?  There continues to be community interest and support in Westsyde.  It is carried on in the actions, events and activities of the Westsyde Community Development Society.  Its members and the residents have endorsed their objectives and goals supporting the society’s fundraising efforts to continue the legacy of the Centennial Parks Committee, who became the Westsyde Centennial Parks Association. 

Article written by Robert Kelly, Past President of the Westsyde Community Development Society, with information and records retained by Mr. Charlie Neal, Westsyde recreation head of the Westsyde Centennial Parks Association provided by his daughter Lorraine Lepine.


 


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