A good turnout helped William Simmons Memorial Park get its official opening on May 21.
The park consists of a 7.2 acre donation from Erik Sellars-St. Clare, a three acre provincial right of way purchase, and a Timberwest purchase of slightly over five acres. The park is situated along the north shore of Poirier Lake and accessible from Otter Point Road in the 3000 block, near Young’s Lake Road.
Louise Patterson, Chair of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Parks Commission, was part of the group of dignitaries on hand for the historic occasion.
Patterson delivered a short speech, which (with her permission) is included as follows:
“Welcome to William Simmons Memorial Park, donated by Erik Sellars-St. Clare.
Erik was born December 11, 1908 and passed away on October 16, 2007.
Otter Point: you’ve got yourself a treasure!
For those of us who have been involved from the beginning (approximately five years) I can only say this is an amazing day, one that has been a long time coming.
I would like to acknowledge and thank SEAPARC manager Larry Hutchings. In the very beginning he picked up the puck and ran with it, working his way through a maze of formidable obstacles. These included the purchase of adjacent land to Poirier Lake to enhance the proposed parkland. He was determined to honour Erik’s wishes and to give the community a park it could be proud of. We were supported by Erik Lund, our regional director at that time.
Erik Sellars-St.Clare had approached us years prior and let his feelings be known about his beloved land that he cared passionately about. He felt it would be a fitting legacy to leave his oasis, that he enjoyed for many years, to the community so they could enjoy it too,
To do that required someone to take on the management and responsibility of the parkland.
He and his partner, William Simmons settled on Poirier Lake in 1951. Erik outlived his partner.
In earlier years Erik had spent his time painting and actually had delightful parties by his pool. Some of his paintings are hanging at the SEAPARC Leisure Centre. His personal request in the agreement was that we name the park after William Simmons.
In 2007 Erik donated land for the park. Many challenges had to be worked through.
The final saga goes to our manager Ron Hamilton. He dove in with all four feet and made it happen.
I saw our regional director Mike Hicks groveling in the debris, our alternate Wally Vowles, and Ron himself covered in dirt and grime and wearing protective masks, throwing garbage hither and yon. They were right into it.
Local Sooke companies donated their time and equipment to make it happen. We even had some volunteer folks from the CRD help us out. Most important was the awesome turnout of community volunteers.
I just can’t say enough about all the people who came out to help, they were amazing.
Thank you all, and my apologies to anyone I may have missed. Now go forth and enjoy the park Erik left for you.”