The Capital Regional District parks committee is recommending spending $35,000 to consult with the public on the future of Island View Beach Regional Park.
But there will be no backtracking on a decision to keep drainage ditches clear and maintain the mosquito-abatement program in the 52-hectare park, says CRD parks committee chairwoman Susan Brice.
“So we don’t get anxiety out there, I would just like to confirm for everybody that the issue about drainage and mosquito abatement is not on the table,” Brice said.
“This committee and the board has confirmed the ’89 park management plan with respect to the maintenance of the drainage system in Island View park and the mosquito abatement program. Signed, sealed and delivered.
“So we’re not going out to the public to ask if they wish to have the park flooded.”
A variety of interested parties, including the District of Central Saanich, Tsawout First Nation, adjacent landowners and members of the public, will be consulted under the process recommended by the committee to the CRD board.
The public will be invited to participate in round-table discussions to discuss “the ecological, cultural and visitor values of the park and how the park should be managed,” says a staff report.
Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks, a parks committee member, said the park has been the subject of a number of studies and public consultations in recent years and that once the decision was made to drain it, developing a management plan shouldn’t be complicated.
He suggested staff should develop recommendations for the park’s management and take them to the public rather than the other way around.
“I don’t see the huge, huge conflicts. If we’re going to drain it, we’ve got conflicts with dogs running loose or not running loose. Either we are going to rip the boat launch out or we’re not going to rip the boat launch out. They’re pretty small issues,” Hicks said.
Larisa Hutcheson, general manager of parks and environmental services, said public consultation was essential to guide staff through number of policy pieces, including dog management, restoration of the sand dune ecosystem, and location, design and future operation of the campground.
“I would suggest that those issues are substantive for the community, as well as within the broader context of the plan itself,” Hutcheson said.
Hicks was not convinced.
“It’s not a big thing. It’s an old farm. We’re not building a nuclear reactor here. It’s just taking over an old farm here and making it a park,” he said.
The management plan is to be completed in early 2015.
Island View Beach, with 1.3 kilometres of coastline, is one of the region’s most popular parks, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
The CRD-operated campground in the park has 18 beachfront sites for recreational vehicles, along with five tent-trailer sites and 24 tent sites in the trees.