Central Saanich’s Parks and Recreation Committee had a spot of refereeing to do last Monday between representatives from the CRD and the Friends of Island View Beach.
The CRD’s effort to develop a new management plan for Island View Beach Regional Park has been a contentious issue for years, and it looked as though the fight was still going strong.
Mike Walton, senior manager for CRD Regional Parks, presented information describing its four-step public participation process, detailing in particular the first step, currently underway, that includes disseminating “factual technical and scientific information about the natural environment found in the park.”
Mere seconds after Walton finished, several members of the Friends of Island View Beach took the microphone to point out inaccuracies.
The Friends claim there were egregious errors in reporting the species-at-risk in the park, the width of ditches and mislabelled and mis-dated photos used to illustrate points in the presentation.
Additionally, members stressed any park management plan would need to address climate change, or the whole thing is for naught.
Some issues raised were more logistical than factual; Councillor Alicia Cormier asked if the last stage of the CRD’s consultation process could take place in the fall, rather than summer when many people are away; and Coun. Zeb King wanted to ensure those who may have to leave early in two upcoming informational sessions have ample access to the feedback forms.
Walton readily responded to the concerns by saying the CRD is open to receiving more information from the public.
“This is a public process and we’re open to these opportunities (for input). We’re here to listen,” said Walton.
Wayne Watkins, who served as the chair of the parks committee in 1989 and whose signature is on the current park management plan, demanded council investigate the validity of the CRD’s facts.
Coun. Carl Jensen then moved to ask the CRD to confirm the validity of its information and provide references, with Mayor Ryan Windsor adding an amendment to require the CRD to utilize an independent third party if it was not able to confirm its own data.
The motion passed, with only Coun. Chris Graham opposed, saying, “The last thing we need to do is ask the CRD for more studies.”
At this point, public hearings on Jan. 29 at the Leonardo Da Vinci Centre, and Feb. 5 at the Saanich Fairground main hall are scheduled to go ahead as planned. The meetings run from 6 to 9 p.m.
Public input through the CRD’s response form must be received by midnight, Feb. 15, 2015.
To view the plan and response form, visit www.crd.bc.ca/project/island-view-beach-management-plan.