Allison Barber is not wrong in her letter “Any Activity is Invasive” Sooke News Mirror Oct 22, 2014. However, I would like to place these thoughts into a slightly different context.
While the provincial government does own a large percentage of the land mass, this is mostly in the northern Island and on the Mainland and given over to resource extraction, parks, park reserves and First Nation Treaty purposes. These lands are not readily accessible to our communities for recreation. Otter Point has less than one per cent of its land mass as public park land; the JDF Electoral Area has about three per cent. The Crown land that exists in Otter Point is assigned to First Nation Treaty negotiation and may not be available for public recreation.
Otter Point has a large number of equestrians, walkers and trail bikers who have traditionally used informal trails in the area which are largely on private property. As is the right of property owners, these trails have been progressively cut off as development occurs. Well-marked trails that respect water courses and sensitive vegetation need not be destructive; they channel inevitable human access for better protection of the general environment. If we wish to continue to promote a healthy community through local recreation opportunities, it’s essential to find acceptable ways to establish trails, community forests and alternative transportation routes to accommodate community recreation and provide venues attractive to visitors.
The push to purchase the “Admiral’s Forest” by the JdF Community Land Trust Society supported by the JdF Community Trails Society was just such an effort. Our societies are happy that one of the Admiral’s sons purchased the land. We learned a lot in the process and there will be further opportunities. Both our societies remains committed to acquiring trails and recreation land for the community; now and in the future.
President, Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society
President, Juan de Fuca Community Land Trust Society