Friends of Island View Beach vow not to give up the fight for Central Saanich park

Sand restoration is just a word, says CRD director

Tim Collins/News staff

The Friends of Island View Beach (FOIVB) are determined not to give up the fight for the future of a natural attraction enjoyed by local residents for nearly a century.

“We’ve been in this fight for seven years now, and I think the CRD thought we’de finally just get tired and go away, but we’re just getting started, and we won’t give up,” said Carol Best, a member of the FOIVB steering Committee.

The latest concerns have arisen following the approval of a new plan for Island View Beach Regional Park by the Parks Committee of the Capital Regional District (CRD), despite repeated calls by the FOIVB to delay the vote because of flaws and misinformation within the document.

One issue involves the actual jurisdiction of the CRD over a portion of the park they intend to regulate. In a 2010 Supreme Court case (Lawrence v. British Columbia (Attorney General) 2010BCSC 309) it was determined that the natural boundary along the coast can be identified by the line where the sand stops and brown organic soil begins. By that reckoning, the land the CRD has designated as restricted may lie beyond their jurisdiction.

The issue has been repeatedly raised with CRD staff dating back to April 10, 2017, and on June 16, Jason Austin of FOIVB sent an email imploring the CRD to engage a surveyor to establish the park’s boundaries.

Best explained that, regardless of the outcome of a requested survey to resolve jurisdictional questions, the concept of closing down significant portions of the property for “sand restoration” is wrong-headed and maintained the CRD has no real plan for what sand restoration actually means.

That contention seemed to be confirmed by CRD director Mike Hicks.

“Sand restoration? That’s just a word. We don’t have any definite plans for sand restoration so I couldn’t tell you what that would look like. I think the problem actually is that staff say biologists have identified this as a sensitive area (for species at risk) but I don’t personally believe it. I’ve advocated that they identify the sensitive areas and just fence them off (instead of closing down a major part of the park),” said Hicks.

The plan will allow for only two access points from the berm trail in the park to the beach,which is not controlled by the CRD, but Hicks doesn’t see this as a problem.

“Most people walk on the berm but I know people want to get to the beach so they (the CRD staff) have suggested they’ll make a nice entrance. But, listen, if people want to climb across the logs, no one is going to throw them in jail,”said Hicks.

FOIVB do acknowledge some positive aspects of the proposed plan, but Best said the possible addition of a second washroom facility doesn’t make up for taking away access to a significant portion of the park to the public with no real justification.

“I’m not disputing the contention and concerns … I don’t disagree with them … but this is a plan at least and if it doesn’t work we can change it in a year or two,” said Hicks, adding, “at some point we have to come a point where we say, just do it already.”

Best disagrees.

“This draft plan goes to to the CRD Board on July 12 and people have to call their CRD reps and tell them that making decisions out of fatigue and frustration is not to go. They (the CRD Board) need to tell staff to work with us and get it right. Stop making arbitrary, money wasting decisions that harm the public based on bad assumptions and misleading and even outright false information. We’ve been at this for seven years. For heaven sake lets get it right,” she said.