Jason Austin at an information session at Island View Beach Regional Park. (Tim Collins/file photo)

Island View Beach plan on hold but opposing views persist

  • Jul. 13, 2017 12:30 p.m.

Tim Collins/News staff

The saga of the Island View Beach management plan took an unexpected turn at the Wednesday afternoon meeting of the CRD when board chair, Barb Desjardins, told committee members she had received a letter from the Tsawout First Nation.

The opening paragraph of that correspondence read:

“The Tsawout First Nation does not support the current draft Island View Beach Regional Park Management Plan. (the plan) does not provide a decision -making role for the Tsawout First Nation in the management of our traditional lands that are included within the park”

Gwen Underwood, the Tsawout Lands Manager said that, despite meeting with the CRD for years, their concerns have not been addressed. She went on to say that most of the users of the park are very respectful of the area, but cited dog walking companies who arrive at the beach with up to eight dogs at a time as an example of a practice that needs to be addressed.

“We aren’t just stakeholders in this process. We’ve been here for thousands of years and we need to be treated as a local government,” said Underwood. “It’s why we sent the letter.”

In response to the correspondence, Desjardins called for any decision on the management plan to be delayed until at least August to allow staff to review the issues raised by the Tsawout and respond to the CRD board.

Despite the delayed vote, the Board heard impassioned presentations from ten separate delegations regarding the plan; delegations that highlighted the deep divide that exists between the two sides of the issue.

On one side, the majority of the delegations represented the view of those who, among other issues, want the CRD to live up to it’s responsibility to maintain the berm in the park and keep the drainage ditches cleared to prevent infestations of mosquitoes that plague the area when that maintenance does not take place. That group also generally advocates the human enjoyment of the park, citing the fact that this was agricultural land before being designated as a regional park, not the idyllic natural wetland portrayed by some critics of the active use of the area.

Jason Austin, one of the organizers of the Friends of Island View Beach, presented visual evidence of the failure of the CRD to clear the ditches and said the group would continue to fight to prevent a large area of beachfront on the northern section of the park from being closed to the more than 400,000 annual users of the park.

On the opposing side, three delegations appeared to defend what some have characterized as “the naturalist agenda”.

Ann Nightingale, a Saanichton resident, gave a presentation in which she accused the Friends of Island View Beach as speaking only for their own self-interests. She maintained that she had been made to feel “gullible, simple, foolish, stupid and duped” through her interaction with the organization and went on to criticize the news coverage of the conflict as also being motivated by self interest, although she gave no indication of the nature of the alleged media self-interest.

Several of the delegations also addressed the issue of off-leash dogs in the park with a variety of allegations being levelled by critics of dogs in the park and a series of counter testimonials being offered by long-time park users supportive of the practice who said that dogs posed little or no problem for either the beach or beach users.

The proposed management plan issue will be returning to the CRD in August.

Just Posted

Snow day? Saanich Peninsula schools will let you know of closures

Snow might stick overnight; no news from SD63 means schools are open

Sidney’s Desiree Young at her first BC Winter Games

Wheelchair basketball player has been on the court for about a year

Victoria cannabis advocates call proposed trust fund an ‘overreach’

BCICA says North Saanich councillor’s ideas on cannabis ‘cherry picking’

Victoria airport to spend $19.4m on terminal expansion

Record passenger growth means YYJ needs to grow

Snow cancels, alters transit routes across Greater Victoria

Buses will not be stopping on steep hills, says BC Transit

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

Inside the Olympic performance of the Island’s Teal Harle

Islander finishes fifth in Olympic Men’s Slopestyle final in Pyeong Chang

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Most Read