OUR VIEW: Put parks on your resolutions list

Peninsula News Review recommends getting outside in the new year, 2012

This year of the Peninsula News Review’s birthday marks the end of another centennial year – the 100th anniversary of B.C. Parks.

The system that turned 100 on March 1, 2011 originated with the creation of a provincial park here on Vancouver Island – Strathcona Park. To mark the occasion, B.C. Parks made a big gesture to draw users out to its natural spaces, trails and attractions after admitting fewer people had been taking advantage of provincial parks recently than in the past. Among other changes, it scrapped parking fees at its destinations and used $10.1 million to reinvigate trails, bathrooms, campgrounds and picnic areas provincewide.

As B.C. Parks’ birthday draws to a close, we’d like to remind Saanich Peninsula residents of the natural abundance around us. On the Island alone, there are almost 170 provincial parks. That doesn’t count the many regional and federal parks that call our rock home.

In North Saanich is John Dean Park, and on the edge of Central Saanich rests the expansive Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. The latter hosts 25 kilometres of trails, many of which wind along the waterfront to offer spectacular views of Saanich and Tod inlets. The park surrounds the delicate Finlayson Arm – a mecca for scuba divers who hope to see rare marine life.

As this new year begins, many of us will make resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with the kids or the parents, or to save money. Consider resolving to better appreciate the natural gifts this Island has to offer by spending time in parks, be they regional, provincial, or federal.

After all, we pay a heck of a lot of money to live in our little corner of paradise here on the Peninsula. We certainly get what we pay for, so let’s be sure we take full advantage.