Tim Collins/News staff
A plan for Island View Beach, seven years in the making, still has a significant error at it’s heart, according to the Friends of Island View Beach (FOIVB) and at least one Capital Regional District (CRD) Board member is having reservations about passing the plan in its current form.
The issue, according to the FOIVB, involves the proposed closure of a significant part of the north beach to the public. Carol Best, FOIVB spokesperson, explained that the area is one of the most popular areas of the beach, between the high tide line and the berm pathway in the northern section of the park, an area characterized by logs and soft sand.
Mick Hicks, a member of the CRD Board of Directors, told the Peninsula News Review he is leaning toward the position of the FOIVB after spending considerable time researching the issue and making visits out to the disputed area.
“I was out there recently, watching as 20 families were in that area with their little tents and blankets. I watched the children playing in the logs and I’m really weighing what is best for this piece of ground. What are we really closing it for?” said Hicks, adding that the issue has caused him to do some very real soul searching.
On the opposite side of the dispute, and in support of the CRD’s plan, Mike Simmons is a past member of the collaborative group consulting on the plan. He’s also a member of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory and said he feels the closure is defensible on the basis of the harm human use may have on some of the plants in the area; plants listed as at risk.
That’s a contention challenged by Best, who said the plants in question, where they do exist in the area, are doing fine and are not impacted by beach users.
But, beyond the advisability of closing down the section of beach in question, there is a nagging issue of whether the CRD even has jurisdiction over the land they intend to close to the public.
In an email obtained by the News Review, the Senior Deputy Surveyor General for B.C., Jeff Beddoes, confirmed that the boundary of the park is determined by a change in soil and vegetation, a position long maintained by FOIVB.
This means the disputed area slated for closure appears be crown land, beyond the jurisdiction of the CRD. Beddoes goes on to say that it is “appropriate to have a BC land surveyor conduct a field survey and place wooden stakes” to mark the boundary of demarking the CRD’s land and that “if an activity is taking place on Crown land without authorization” the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources could take action.
It’s an issue well known to Hicks, who recounted how he had raised the question with staff at the CRD and had been assured that they would do a survey prior to in installing fencing and signage. The park plan, however makes no mention of the need for a survey and the map of the proposed restricted area presented as part of the plan runs counter to the information provided by Beddoes.
“I can’t see the plan going through in it’s current form, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some ammendments proposed at the July 12 meeting,” said Hicks.