Named after the groundskeeper who died during the fulfillment of his duties at the golf course, John Phillips Memorial Park is one of the most heavily manipulated landscapes in Sooke.
Quite different from the farms and fields carved from rock and rainforest, John Phillips Golf Course was designed for one thing, and one thing only — to provide a recreational venue for people.
The area was stripped, blasted, scraped, filled, replanted, irrigated and sprayed with chemicals to exist as a golf course.
Now that John Phillips Memorial Park belongs to the citizens of Sooke, and there is a movement behind developing amenities within it, it bears pointing out that this land is in many ways an artificial environment, created expressly for the enjoyment of people.
How many species of plant and animal life do you think were displaced in order to create this convenient paradise for golfers? Do you know what lies under the sod? The area is full of plastic piping, and who knows what else. It’s far from a naturally occurring environment.
What I’ve seen from inside is that the argument against it is, “this is the last greenspace left and we need to keep people from using it.” What makes you think people using it will make it less a greenspace?”
In the bigger picture, the bike park is only a component of the overall conceptual goal for the park, as identified by citizen involvement and the park committee’s findings back in 2006. If the vocal minority who are applying acute political pressure on mayor and council around this issue are successful, it is conceivable that nothing will come of John Phillips Park — a park that many people do not know even exists, yet a park which could put Sooke on the map.
It is possible for council to decide to sell parkland in order to buy parkland. What a sad day it would be if the naysayers of today are successful, and no development for community use happens in John Phillips. Later, a council may decide, since no one’s using it, the park’s not worth keeping, so it might as well be sold in exchange for a different park.
Who wins then?