With more people seeking exercise and relaxation in Mount Douglas Park, issues surrounding parking and social distancing are on the rise.
Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, has growing concerns about the park’s well-being.
There have been lots of new people in the park since the COVID-19 pandemic began but many are unaware of the proper park etiquette, he explained. Recently, he’s noticed more people stepping off the paths and onto plants to pass one another while keeping the recommended six-foot berth.
“The park is really suffering,” Wick said sadly.
Since the pandemic began, Saanich has installed COVID-19 signs throughout the park to remind residents to keep a safe distance and follow orders from the province, which Wick appreciates. However, he said the Society also wants to see preservation signs reminding hikers to stay on recognized trails and out of the forest.
It may be that, during this period of #SocialDistancing, we shouldn’t be using the narrow trails where there is little room to pass one another safely. Wild parks are something we cherish because they are wild. Yes, the parks aren’t just for preservation, but for enjoyment too.
— Friends of Mount Douglas Park (@MountDougPark) April 26, 2020
The official trails are named and have way-finding posts to help people avoid getting lost, he said, noting that a GPS-enabled trail map is available on the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society website along with user instructions.
“Our goal is to preserve the darn park” but it’s difficult to keep up with people stepping off paths and widening the trails, Wick said. The “transgressions are more permanent” than park-users may think because there are hundreds of people behind them doing the same thing.
He suggested closing the more narrow trails would be beneficial but according to District spokesperson Megan Catalano, the municipality isn’t currently planning to close any of the trails in Mount Douglas Park.
Instead, park-users are being asked to “be respectful of the natural environment and each other when visiting the park,” she said.
We like to say take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but memories. Remember to stay on trails so you do not impact any native plants. Thanks! https://t.co/BeSJw2z72e
— Saanich Parks, Recreation & Community Services (@SaanichParksRec) May 6, 2020
“We encourage residents to get outside, enjoy nature and stay active during this challenging time,” she said.
The District is, however, concerned about illegal parking. Despite “‘no parking” signs, park-users continue to leave vehicles out of bounds, Catalano said.
We know you all love Mount Douglas Park, but we need you to park responsibly. Parking is not allowed on the side of the Churchill Rd-specially in front of the gate! Park only in designated parking spots. The beach lot has lots of room! You are there for a walk-add a few feet 😌 pic.twitter.com/y2HSwjNaX8
— Saanich Parks, Recreation & Community Services (@SaanichParksRec) May 8, 2020
She noted that park ambassadors have been spreading the word about proper parking in an effort “to achieve compliance.”
Residents are expected to abide by the parking signage in and around the park “especially now that more people are visiting with the nicer weather” and stick to designated parking, Catalano said.
Wick added that “it’s up to everybody” to get familiar with the park rules and hold themselves accountable.
Those with concerns can contact parks staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-475-5522.