qathet Regional District (qRD) is in the process of conducting its second round of public engagement into development of its parks and trails strategy.
According to its website, qRD is developing a strategy to guide the future direction for parks and trails it owns and operates. The website states that parks and trails are a vital asset to the community, providing valuable recreation opportunities which support the health and wellness of residents, and ensure the public has access to all that nature has to offer while also protecting those resources for future generations.
qRD’s current inventory consists of 10 regional parks, two campgrounds and several community parks on Texada Island. Existing trails owned and operated by qRD include beach access trails and the Myrtle Creek pedestrian and cycling bridge.
The website stated that the final strategy will identify key issues, challenges and opportunities, establish goals and highlight actions that reflect the community’s desires and aspirations for parks and trails. This strategy will be used to establish priorities, identify desired locations for future parks and trails, guide decision-making and operations, and allocate resources over the next 10 years.
At an online open house on May 16, consultant Megan Turnock from LEES and Associates Landscape Architects, provided an outline of the project.
“We are bringing back information based on what we heard in the first round of engagement, going through the draft vision, goals and recommendations,” said Turnock. “We want to know if we missed anything in the first round of engagement.”
Turnock said the strategy will present a comprehensive inventory of current parks and trails and identify community values and priorities. She said it will identify key issues, challenges and opportunities. She added that in the current phase, there is a draft vision, goals and actions that hopefully reflect what has been heard regarding the community's desires and aspiration for parks and trails.
Growing out of the exercise will be the identification of priorities, decision-making and operations, and the allocation of resources over the next 10 years, said Turnock. This will include a policy for parkland acquisition.
The first phase of the process was extensive, with four in-person workshops, two online workshops and an online survey in November 2022. There were 370 online survey responses, 99 participants in community open houses and 17 community members provided email feedback.
Turnock said community values included water access, connection with nature, protecting nature in regional parks and trails, and the importance of access to recreation opportunities.
Key issues and opportunities included desire for new parks and trails, including potentially increasing funding for parks and trails and expanding the number of new parks and trails, according to Turnock. Stillwater Bluffs was the top-mentioned location for a new park or trail.
Continued accessibility improvements were also mentioned as a key issue, as well as safe trail connections and active transportation. The importance of volunteer support was also an important issue, having volunteers help maintain parks and trails within the regional district.
Following the first round of engagement, Turnock said a vision was developed. It reads: The parks and trails system preserves natural spaces, and connects people to the waterfront, rich ecosystems, beaches and each other. Supported by community partnerships, regional parks and trails provide diverse opportunities for relaxation and recreation that support health and wellness for all.
Five goals were also developed to support qRD in achieving the vision for parks and trails.
Goal one is to identify, acquire and manage new regional parks and trails.
Goal two is to increase protection and management of natural areas.
Goal three is to strengthen community partnerships and volunteer resources.
Goal four is to enhance user experience at parks and beach access trails.
The fifth goal is to support active transportation and a connected community.
With each goal came a number of recommendations. Turnock said for the first goal, to meet the needs of the additional 3,000 people projected to move to the region by 2041, qRD would need to add 45.4 hectares of parkland to maintain current service levels.
The consultants continue to seek public input. A survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/KDDYM8J. It will remain open until May 31.