Cadboro Bay’s Gyro Park and its giant concrete sea creatures remain almost unchanged since they were laid out almost 60 years ago.
But the waterfront Saanich park is due for an upgrade that has been the subject of consultations with the community for almost four years, says Rae Roer, Saanich parks senior manager.
“It’s been a protracted process,” he said, far longer than expected due in part to changes in both municipal staff and a transition in the Cadboro Bay Residents Association.
But there will be an opportunity to play catch-up and pin down a common vision when eight groups with a stake in the park meet Saturday.
In 2010 and 2011, stakeholders — including local residents and community groups that use the space — deemed the park to be “a tired and neglected jewel that needs polish,” said a May 2012 Saanich report.
“All the issues will be talked out so that we can come up with something that is acceptable to everyone involved,” said Jonathan Stoppi, chairman of the residents association.
There have been “all sorts of sticking points,” he said, citing the creation of a wetlands area when there are already drainage problems that keep the playground under water for much of the winter.
“God forbid that anything should happen to Cadborosaurus and the big octopus,” he said.
“It’s a very, very important thing for kids. That’ll be one of the things that’s preserved.”
Saanich parks wants to “honour and retain” the giant concrete play structures that are part of the community’s history, Roer said. “Our staff built them way, way, way back when.”
But the idea of relocating the creatures, along with the half-buried boat beloved by children, could end up on the table, he said.
One of the main changes, first proposed in 2011, would see the existing parking lot relocated away from prime waterfront and more parking created off Cadboro Bay Road — but no more than is currently on site.
Other proposed changes include removing the tennis courts, providing a boat drop-off launch zone and a community-use building with a plaza, as well as the creation of wetland along with other stormwater management to mitigate flooding and enhance the environment, Roer said.
“This is a long-term plan — this could be 10 to 20 years,” he added.
No budget has been set but it would require millions of dollars, he added.
Saanich has a grant of $675,000 from the province to address playgrounds and increase access for people with mobility challenges to the beach and the promenade, which has no ramp. Roer hopes the first phase can be completed this summer.
Gyro Park comprises six hectares at the end of Sinclair Road and Penrhyn Street, most of it donated to the Gyro Club, which purchased most of the property and donated it to Saanich in 1954.
Saturday’s meeting offers a chance to get groups — from Cadboro Bay’s Sailing Association and Village Improvement Association to the Sea Scouts and the Victoria Natural History Society — in one room to find where there’s agreement, what needs more work and whether anything should be removed from the table, Roer said.
“We’ve heard various opinions, about parking, landscaping and trees and the playgrounds.”
One of the main concerns is the gravel parking lot that “is next to impossible to maintain,” he said.
Master plan objectives laid out by Saanich Parks in May 2012 include reorganizing the layout to reduce maintenance costs, the recognition of First Nations Heritage and improvements to emergency access and ecological activity.
No dates for public open houses have been set.
© Copyright 2013