Is­land View turns to Tsawout

Times Colonist - - The Capital / Island - BILL CLEVERLEY bclev­er­ley@times­

The man­age­ment plan for Is­land View Beach is on hold for the fore­see­able fu­ture af­ter a last-minute ap­peal by the Tsawout First Na­tion for more con­sul­ta­tion.

“I think I can report that this item is go­ing to be tabled al­most in­def­i­nitely,” Cap­i­tal Re­gional District parks com­mit­tee chair­man Mike Hicks told board mem­bers last week.

In July, CRD di­rec­tors were caught off guard and forced at the last minute to post­pone con­sid­er­a­tion of the plan — seven years in the mak­ing — af­ter re­ceiv­ing a let­ter from Chief Har­vey Un­der­wood say­ing his na­tion was op­posed to the plan.

The let­ter, re­ceived the day it was to be con­sid­ered for adop­tion, said the pro­posed man­age­ment plan did not rec­og­nize the Tsawout’s Dou­glas Treaty and Abo­rig­i­nal rights to ac­cess and use re­sources in the park and did not pro­vide a de­ci­sion-mak­ing role for the Tsawout First Na­tion “in the man­age­ment of our tra­di­tional lands that are in­cluded within the park.”

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the let­ter, CRD rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­clud­ing Hicks, CRD chair­woman Barb Des­jardins and chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Bob Lapham met with Un­der­wood, his coun­cil and Tsawout el­ders. It quickly be­came clear that more work had to be done with the Tsawout, Hicks said.

“So we have said: ‘You are go­ing to get ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion,’ ” he said. “We’ll be en­ter­ing into talks with the Tsawout about var­i­ous things on the man­age­ment and plan for Is­land View Beach.”

The Tsawout have in­di­cated they would like to see the wet­lands pro­tected and con­served. Off-leash dogs are seen as an on­go­ing con­cern be­cause of their im­pacts on birds such as brant geese that rely on the shore­line.

At 48.5 hectares, Is­land View is the re­gion’s third most pop­u­lar park, at­tract­ing about 400,000 visi­tors a year.

But at­tempt­ing to craft a plan that con­sid­ered var­i­ous in­ter­ests rang­ing from dog walk­ers to eques­tri­ans, neigh­bours, farm­ers and First Na­tions has been a bal­anc­ing act of epic pro­por­tions.

The draft plan in­cluded mea­sures such as a com­mit­ment to keep­ing land dry by main­tain­ing the berm, ditches and drainage gate, and con­tin­u­a­tion of a mos­quito abate­ment program.

There was to be a buf­fer zone be­tween the trail sys­tem and Tsawout lands and a pre­serve for any fu­ture sand restora­tion work, sen­si­tive plants or species at risk.

Also in the pro­posal: a new 1.5-kilo­me­tre trail and ac­cess to the beach for eques­tri­ans; three kilo­me­tres of trails for dog walk­ers, most of it off leash; des­ig­na­tion of the 1.2-hectare grassy area near the park’s en­trance as a dog-free area for those who would rather be without dogs.

Hicks said the ear­li­est a re­vised plan might be con­sid­ered is likely spring.

Des­jardins called the de­lay dis­ap­point­ing.

“It’s al­ways dis­ap­point­ing when you think you’re at the end and you’re not,” she said, “but I’m a firm be­liever that if some­body feels that we’ve missed a step, we need to make sure that we cover it.”

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