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Pond plans prompt outcry
Residents of Mulberry Place in North Saanich are worried that a plan to build a berm and boardwalk on Gardiner’s Pond will cause flooding and safety issues. They are more concerned, however, that they have yet to be told officially about the project.
Ian Bruce, executive co-ordinator of the Peninsula Streams Society, says no one has been told about it because the plan is only in the concept stage.
A group of concerned residents spoke at North Saanich district council Monday, June 3, expressing their worry that a berm could lead to localized flooding and that a proposed boardwalk linking Mulberry Place with the busier Tatlow Road might be a hazard for children.
More worrisome, they said, was that they hadn’t been told about Peninsula Streams’ plans, even as surveyors and other workers have been working around the pond
Bruce said for the most part, the plans are hypothetical. He said volunteers with the society have been helping bring back life to Chalet Creek, which runs out of the pond, for more than two years and the berm concept is something they have been considering.
However, the plans have progressed beyond the hypothetical stage. Peninsula Streams has raised the idea with the district’s environmental and parks advisory committees. Bruce said surveyors have been on site with the knowledge of North Saanich municipal staff — all part of what he calls the due diligence stage.
Both staff and some councillors have known of the idea in its basic form — even more so since the district had contact with a local land owner who was issued a stop work order recently, after a project they started was deemed too close to the pond.
That incident has since been resolved and the remediation work has given rise to the idea for a berm and other improvements along an existing district road right-of-way.
“We are looking to see if we can use the berm to hold back the winter runoff,” Bruce explained. “Chalet Creek needs more consistent summer flow to help bring back life.”
The creek in summer, he said, tends to stop flowing and pools of water warm to the point of being unable to sustain insect and fish life. A berm, he said, would help ensure regular water in the creek and help prevent flooding downstream.
Asked if the berm could cause flooding of people’s properties nearby, Bruce said the pond would only be as full as it is in the winter naturally and therefore would not affect nearby property.
“The difference is only about one meter of depth,” he said.
Bruce said people’s concerns about the project are premature, as Peninsula Streams would only look to start the project in 2014 or 2015 — and only once plans have been drawn up and presented to the public and to district council.
“I think the whole thing with the neighbours is unwarranted,” Bruce said. “They don’t really have all of the information.”
That’s the point of the work that’s being done now, he continued, to see if a berm is workable.
As for a boardwalk, Bruce said the idea started with the berm, which could have a pathway on top of it. The idea was floated to extend a boardwalk 40 to 50 meters along the southern portion of the pond to connect the trail system with Tatlow Road.
He added, however, that Peninsula Streams would not want to build a boardwalk if the residents don’t want it.
“We want to something of ecological benefit for the pond and the creek,” he said. “The berm is an idea. There are no approvals and no application for it.”
He said he thought a boardwalk addition might be a nice thing for the area, but in the end it’s not needed for their creek restoration work. Bruce did not say when the plans for a berm would be brought to the public.
After residents spoke before council this week, the politicians asked their staff to gather more information about the issue. Staff did report that Peninsula Streams came to them earlier this year with the idea and were referred to council committees.
“The Parks Commission stated that if Peninsula Streams were to proceed, they would have to go to public consultation and bring it before council,” said Director of Planning and Community Services Mark Brodrick.