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Three Island parks set to grow as province purchases land for expansions

The province is adding land to seven parks and one protected area, including three on Vancouver Island. About 96 acres of treed waterfront are being added to Cowichan River Park near Duncan.
Cowichan River Provincial Park
Cowichan River Provincial Park is among seven B.C. parks and one protected area set to expand. DAVID STANLEY VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The province is adding land to seven parks and one protected area, including three on Vancouver Island.

About 96 acres of treed waterfront are being added to Cowichan River Park near Duncan. The land, which cost $570,000, includes stretches of the Trans Canada Trail and Cowichan River Footpath.

Gowlland Tod Park, on the west side of Saanich Inlet, will grow by about 10 acres, while about five acres of coastline are being added to Wakes Cove Marine Park on Valdez Island, near Nanaimo, to provide sheltered anchorage and access to hiking, picnic areas and wildlife viewing.

The Valdez Island land cost $535,000. A price was not given for the Gowlland Tod addition.

Land near Cypress Mountain Resort, the largest freshwater marsh in the Lower Mainland and an Okanagan grassland ecosystem home to endangered species are among the other areas protected.

Since 2020, the province has purchased more than 565 acres of land costing $2.47 million.

The B.C. government says it will now consult with First Nations and conduct legal boundary mapping before adding the lands to the parks system.

Parks across B.C. have been increasingly popular in recent years, especially in the area around Metro Vancouver. Park visits in the South Coast spiked to 10.3 million in 2019, up from 6.5 million in 2010. At that rate, the ministry projects visits to hit 16 million per year by 2029.

Last month, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy relaunched a free day-pass system across five of the province’s busiest parks.

Critics say it does little to fix the root causes of increasingly crowded parks. They say more money needs to be put into trail expansion and maintenance to disperse crowds within existing parks.

— With a file from the Times Colonist

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