The recent pickleball kerfuffle has brought much-needed attention to the comparative state of our two major parks: Windsor Park in the south and Carnarvon Park in the north.
Explore beautiful Windsor Park: the scented and rose gardens with seating in their enclosures, the topiary-clipped hedges, the fine two-storey building, the attractive 600 square-foot shelter over three picnic tables, more than 20 park benches and a 3,000-plus sq.-ft. playground and newly resurfaced tennis courts.
Then visit Carnarvon Park on Henderson Road. Gaze at the unsightly bashed and broken boards lining the outside of the shabby lacrosse box, or the acres of paved-over parkland, useless and cracked with weeds.
Continue to the main building, a windowless Soviet-style cinder block edifice empty since 2016, locked behind a chain-link fence. Inside the building courtyard weeds abound and paper blows around. Abandoned at the back of the facility amongst clumps of weeds is a discarded play set, now virtually unusable. Also locked inside the courtyard is a picnic table, a much-needed amenity at nearby Oakdowne Park where adults have no seating when watching over kids.
The pickleball noise complaints prompted staff to recommend court closure at 6 p.m., depriving families and daytime workers of outdoor play. Council firmly rejected this.
But staff also reported no improvements to Carnarvon are planned until 2027. From 2016 to 2027, there will be 11 years of neglect for the building and large parts of the park. Would this be acceptable if Windsor Park was in such disarray? Not for a minute.
Oak Bay has budgeted $350,000 to repave the parking lot at the Bee Street Recreation Centre near Bowker Creek. Take a look at that parking lot. How could this possibly be a spending priority, while Carnarvon Park is left to deteriorate? Notwithstanding the affect of paving on sensitive Bowker Creek.
Windsor and Carnarvon spotlight the unequal treatments of facilities in our community. What is the planning and decision-making process in Oak Bay that ensures services to all residents are delivered fairly and equitably, regardless of where they live? When will Carnarvon Park get the attention and refurbishment it deserves?