A new plan is in the works for Island View Beach, but not everyone is happy about the situation.
“There are lots of eyes on the park,” said Lynn Wilson, Senior Park Planner for the CRD, “so not much happens here that people are unaware of. But in the end, we want a plan that protects the park for everyone’s use.”
Wilson said that there was a need for a new park plan as the existing park management plan was adopted as a bylaw in 1989 and there have been substantial changes in both the size and usage patterns of the park since that time.
But the process has been more complex than the CRD had imagined.
“We started a new planning process in January of 2011 and thought it would take us six months,” Wilson said. “A lot of complex issues emerged and the process is only now coming to an end.”
The plan that is being proposed by the CRD is not an end point that some area residents find acceptable.
“The whole plan is nothing but bloody smoke and mirrors,” said Jason Austin, a member of the newly-formed Friends of Island View Park and an outspoken advocate for what his group feels are essential values at the park.
“Their plan (the Draft Interim Park Management Plan) currently being proposed is intentionally poorly worded to obscure the intent. You can read it over and over and have no idea of what they’re on about,” said Austin.
Austin maintained that in order to understand the underlying agenda of the plan, one has to do a lot of research.
He said there are references within the plan which take on new meanings when considered in conjunction with the original 1989 bylaw and a 2010 report to the CRD entitled the Cordova Shore Conservation Strategy. That strategy report called for, amongst other things: the removal of dikes; the abandonment of drainage ditches; and the cessation of mosquito abatement programs.
Wilson maintains that there are no plans to do any of these things and that the proposed plan includes language to safeguard these items.
Again, the Friends of Island View Beach disagree.
“There are far too many qualifiers within the report that will allow them to do whatever they bloody well want in the future,” said Austin.
He pointed to part of the proposed plan that calls for the CRD to conduct “a comprehensive assessment of the mosquito control program in the context of wetland conservation and the effects of larvicide on the wetland’s food web.”
He cross-references that with another part of the plan that reads the CRD “may periodically review the interim park management plan to determine if any significant new information exists that would require a change to the policy direction or actions contained in the interim plan.”
“You put that together with their Cordova Shore document that called for an end to larvaciding and what do you think is going to happen?” said Austin.
It’s a view shared by Vern Michell of Michell Farms, another member of the Friends of Island View Beach.
“They didn’t follow their own bylaw to keep the ditches clear until we went after them on this and then, in 2011, they finally cleared the ditches.
“They don’t want to keep them clear. They want the land to go to a wetland,” said Michell. “That happens and I lose 20 acres of farmland.”
Wilson, however, maintained while the CRD plan lays out a greater conservation vision for the park, it is sympathetic with the concerns raised by the Friends of Island View Park and is not intending to fundamentally change the way in which the park operates.
“We are not in opposition to what they want,” said Wilson.
The CRD report will be taken back to the Parks Committee on Nov. 20 and, assuming it is adopted, it will go to the CRD Board in December.
At that time it will replace the 1989 bylaw and become the governing document for the park.