Save park for entire community

Single use is not the best way to utilize John Phillips Memorial Park

As our elected officials vote on the destruction of John Phillips Memorial Park, I am reminded of an unusual moment from April, 2005.  Though I rarely agreed with then Mayor Janet Evans, she has been much on my mind these past few days. These were her words at the April 11, 2005, meeting of council:

“Following adoption of Bylaw 200 and 201, all residents will be called upon to determine what they want to see on Sooke’s newest public asset, our 19-acre park in the centre of town.

“I would like to take this opportunity to call on local community leaders from the following organizations: Lions, Rotary, Lioness, Legion, Community Association, Salmon Enhancement Society and T’Sou-ke Nations to form an interim committee to oversee the establishment of a trust, to manage the park and trail, and to determine future uses for our newest park.

“Initially, it is my hope that the project would bring a naturalist and a professional parks manager on board to help with the stewardship of Nott Brook and Nott creek. This is key in order to preserve and protect the flora, fauna – birds and animals.

“We can fund the project, with Council approval, utilizing our share of the casino revenue.

“A concurrent project would produce a survey to canvas all of the residents of Sooke to determine their overall preference for usage.  There are other issues that will need to be addressed, for example park design.  Perhaps we could send out a challenge to park designers and offer a prize for the best design.

“This park will belong to the community, therefore it is vital that the community is integral in every phase of its creation.”

Somewhere between then and now, things went in a different direction. At the Sept. 17 meeting of the Land Use and Environment Committee, Mayor Milne was asked about the possibility of holding a public opinion referendum to determine how folks feel about their park. His answer was that they were elected to make decisions and they would make this one!

Who else is ready to just say “NO”?

Gail Hall

Sooke