After months of public open houses and workshops, Saanich has laid out a series of potential long-term changes to Cadboro-Gyro Park – three plans that council will eventually select from.
But some Cadboro Bay residents are arguing that none of the three options meet the wishes of park users and the community, and have developed a fourth plan.
Dwight Waring, who sits on the Cadboro Bay Residents Association parks committee, but developed a plan independently with a small group of community members, said Saanich’s plans change too much, are too expensive and don’t properly address pressing problems, such as flooding in the winter.
“In the winter the park floods terribly. Flooding is a big thing,” Waring said. Waring’s plan calls for Saanich to install sump pumps to keep Gyro Park’s fields from flooding in the winter and to purchase a piece of private land attached to the park. His plan opts not to build a wetland pond, as outlined in the district’s options.
“The park drains 85 hectares of surrounding land and it has a high water table,” he said. “(Saanich) wants to dig a pond, but the pond won’t solve the problems. They are trying to make it a natural place, but our analysis is pay for the pumps and the land and it’s still a cheap alternative.”
Waring’s plan also calls for the current parking lot to be paved, but left in the same configuration. Saanich wants to reclaim parking closest to the beach for parkland and build more stalls closer to the entrance off Sinclair Road, although that didn’t find strong support in the latest surveys.
Waring also argues that building a new road and roundabout for a boat drop-off will be too expensive due to soft peat under the ground.
“It will be expensive to build new foundations (for a road). The existing parking is stable,” he said. “New parking will be expensive because of (utility pipe) forcemains and loading. There might be middens and unknown costs.”
Waring tried to present his plans as “Option D” at a Gyro Park planning open house. He had to give his presentation outside.
“We need an upgrade no doubt, but here it’s so easy to park near the water. I don’t know why they want to make it different for people,” he said. “Users don’t want big changes. They don’t want a park they don’t recognize.”
Saanich for its part is emphasizing that any master plan that is approved will be phased in over a decade or more, and remains a work in progress.
Gary Darrah, Saanich’s manager of parks planning, said the only changes budgeted within the next year are to pathway surfaces and grades to improve accessibility to picnic and play areas, a $675,000 project funded by Saanich and provincial grants.
Until a master plan is approved, other potential changes haven’t been budgeted or funded, Darrah said. “It’s important to think of this as a long-term plan. It’s not something that will be implemented in one, two or three years. It will take 10 to 15 years to implement. Improvements will be phased in over time, gradually.”
Other key priorities are adding to the play area and creating drainage for the grassy fields. Darrah said the wetland is the best option to control stormwater flooding in what is the lowest area in Cadboro Bay.
“It’s not possible to keep the (park) dry during the winter with tides and storm events. The concept is to raise the pathways so people can use the park in the winter,” he said.
“The play area floods. One goal is to create a newer, better play area that floods less in winter and can be used year-round. We hope to do that by the end of the year.”
One sticking point are the two tennis courts, which under Saanich’s plan are relocated and shrunk to one. Darrah said the parks department has heard from vocal tennis players and residents about the popularity of the courts.
Keeping the courts as-is hasn’t been “unanimous,” Darrah said, but noted the planning options aren’t written in stone.
As for purchasing the private Godfrey property, a half acre plot that is amid current parkland, Saanich parks manger Rae Roer said the municipality won’t comment on if it is actively pursuing the land, but the parks department is developing contingency plans with and without the land.
“We are always interested (in exploring a purchase) with willing participants. Plans are going ahead regardless. We have a contingency for both,” Roer said.