Island View turns to Tsawout
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.”