Gyro Park could be unrecognizable in the coming years, as Saanich parks planners are looking to give the large Cadboro Bay beach a major facelift.
This week planners released three concept plans for Gyro Park that outline a variety of upgrades to make the park more accessible and usable year-round.
“Right now the park is looking somewhat worn out and tired, so these new facilities would certainly improve the appearance and esthetics of the park,” said Gary Darrah, manager of parks planning and design with Saanich.
“The main principles behind the design of all three of the options is trying to reclaim as much of the prime waterfront space as we can for park users, rather than cars,” he said. “So that’s why all three concepts are similar in that main gravel parking lot has been reduced in size, and then the area closest to the water has been re-greened and turned into open space.”
All three proposals have secondary parking lots planned, so there isn’t a major loss of parking stalls. All parking lots will be paved.
The eastern side of the park could see some of the biggest changes. Two of the three concept plans propose moving the tennis courts from the west end of the park to near Cadboro Bay Road, and all three include a proposal to create a stormwater pond.
“I think everyone recognizes the fact that stormwater control and flood mitigation in the park is important for us to be going. Annually you can count of the park flooding,” Darrah said. “One of the things we’re trying to achieve with this redevelopment is comfortable year-round use of the park – not slogging through water to get to the beach or the playground.”
A series of slightly raised pathways weaving through the park will also help in that regard.
Mayor Frank Leonard says he’s been trying to get Gyro Park updated since 1987, so he’s optimistic the community will provide the feedback and support for a much-needed change.
“We’d like to get a concept plan adopted so that it’s a park that gets a little TLC. I would like to see it get some attention after all these years,” he said.
While he isn’t sold on any of the design aspects yet, Leonard says the one non-negotiable is making the park more accessible.
“Right now it’s a tough park for someone with accessibility issues. You can kind of get up and look at the beach, but you can’t get to it. And the playground’s not accessible at all. … That’s as much an issue of human rights as it is anything else,” Leonard said.
Darrah says all three plans include improving accessibility so people in wheelchairs and parents with strollers can access the beach, promenade and playground without issues.
“We’re trying to help people understand that change can be a good thing, it can be a positive thing,” he said. “Whatever changes are made here will make the park better because it will be usable year-round, it will have a broader range of facilities in it.
“Certainly the neighbourhood isn’t in unanimous agreement of what the vision of the future park could be, but they see it as a local neighbourhood park, they see it as an important municipal park, they understand the significance of the beach, both from a recreation standpoint and an environmental standpoint. Gyro Park is many things to many Saanich resident.”
Saanich is accepting feedback on the three concept plans online until July 25. To see the plans or to provide input, visit tinyurl.com/Lgjbr6s