qathet Regional District’s (qRD) board will consider supporting in principle an expansion of Emily Lake Park on Texada Island.
At the January 13 qRD committee of the whole meeting, directors received a presentation from Texada Island Recreation Commission (TIRC) member Terry Hollo. She said that at a TIRC meeting last September, a motion was passed to recommend that the qRD board start procedures to facilitate an increase of the current Emily Lake Park boundary as per a map in the Texada Island official community plan (OCP).
“On Texada, many believe most of the area in the map is already within the existing Emily Lake boundary,” said Hollo. “There are no markers for the official Emily Lake Park boundaries, and where the lands are crown.”
Hollo outlined that qRD has secured a 30-year renewal lease for Emily Lake Park from the province, which is a fraction of what is outlined in the OCP map. She said there was a recommendation on the January 13 meeting agenda that the board advise TIRC that qRD will defer any consideration of the proposed park expansion until after a qRD parks and trails master plan is completed in 2022.
“A recommendation based on completion of a parks policy document that was planned almost two years ago and yet to be started is disappointing and another delay,” said Hollo. “To defer any consideration now for a non-existent parks and trails policy is a stall and a rejection. Emily Lake Park is already an established park, and once the policy is completed in the unknown distant future, will a decision to proceed with the expansion be any different than a decision made today?
“The timing is now to officially add this item with no delay. This is a boundary change only, and an enhancement of an existing park. It’s not creating anything new. As a crown lease, no funds should be needed.”
Hollo said a delay undermines the whole process and importance of the OCP.
Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall asked what proportion of the land that TIRC is seeking is crown land. Hollo said her understanding is that it is all crown land.
Fall recommends motion
The next item on the committee’s agenda was correspondence sent by Hollo regarding Emily Lake Park, which the committee voted to receive.
Fall said he wanted to recommend another motion, which is that the committee recommend the board support in principle an expansion of Emily Lake Park based on a map in the Texada Island OCP, and that the board direct staff to contact the provincial ministry of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development to enquire about feasibility and options to use this crown land as a regional park.
Fall said with the package put forward by Hollow, he can’t imagine a better case to be made for a regional park.
“It’s in the OCP and it’s had a lot of work behind it,” said Fall. “Given that this is crown land, it does not compete with private property purchases for funds in our parks acquisition reserve. As Ms. Hollo pointed out, there is no reason to wait. I see no reason why we shouldn’t reach out right now to the ministry and find out what their thoughts are. If they are open to it, we can see what options can be put forward and decide whether we go further.”
Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick said for 16 years qRD has maintained Emily Lake Park. She said the proposal is not about expansion of a park but about legitimizing an existing use.
“It is being used that way,” said McCormick. “It’s really important that we move forward. I support this recommendation.”
The committee voted to support Fall’s motion.