The outgoing strategic parks plan has served its purpose, lived out its 10-year life expectancy, and the wrapping is coming off its replacement.
The newer up-to-date document that would “set the direction for regional parks,” according to an April 28 Capital Regional District press release.
A crew of volunteers banded together as the Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) has devoted much of the past 15 months to the creation of the plan, working in concert with CRD staff.
Sooke Mayor Janet Evans serves as vice chair of the CRD Regional Parks Committee. In a CRD media release she states that the plan is based on universal benefits provided by parks and trails.
“That’s why it is necessary to plan today to protect those natural areas that are so vital to the long term health of the region’s environment and of the people who live here,” said Evans.
As highlighted in the Draft Strategic Plan, “The Citizen Advisory Panel and the majority of the public felt that Regional Parks is on the right path and nature protection and conserving biodiversity should be Regional Parks’ top priority. Building on this solid protection mandate, the CAP also feels strongly that the CRD, as part of the Regional Sustainability Strategy, needs to embrace a commitment to manage at least half of the land and water in the region for the conservation of nature.”
“The 2011 doesn’t really remove anything that was included in the 2000 Master Plan,” CAP chair Dave Chater told the Sooke News Mirror via email on April 30. “Some of the differences in the 2011 Plan include:
An expanded environmental protection theme,
An expansive and longer term vision that includes greater collaboration, partnetship and intergration in land planning and parks management.
A real focus on connectivity of natural areas and trails
Emphasizes that healthy ecosystems equal healthy residents in the region
Park and trail expansion – particularly in the areas west of the Sooke River
Stronger support for camping
Continue with the policy of no motorized vehicle use in parks, but a recognition that this use needs to have some designated areas in the region ( just not in parks).
Chater was asked to elaborate on the topic of possible park expansion.
“Proposed park expansion is contained in the 2011 Plan – primarily in areas west of the Sooke River,” he informed, “but also in other areas of the region in order to complete existing parks and create small park areas in the Gulf Islands. Expanded trail links are proposed throughout the region also include links to the Cowichan Valley, Lower Mainland and throughout the Southern Gulf Islands.”
Fielding a question relating to a topic generating much interest recently, Chater continued, “Motorized vehicle use is still considered a non-compatible use in region parks, but CAP does recognize this is a bonafide recreational activity and that some designated areas need to be secured for this kind of use. CAP feels that the CRD (not just parks) could play a leadership role in working with other levels of government, private landowners and other partners to secure some appropriate areas (outside of parks).”