Louis Bockner/News staff
Chainsaw sounds echoed across Langford Lake yesterday and today (April 11) as city crews began a project to upgrade beach accessibility on the southeast side of the lake and left some residents upset.
“I am disgusted,” said Marianne Thomas, who has lived on the lake for 13 years. “It’s a disgrace and if I would have known I would have tried to get as many people as I could together to say ‘let’s stop this.'”
The most angering part for Thomas and fellow resident Sandy Bell was the removal of several large trees that stood on the shore of the lake near the boat launch.
“I’m kind of shocked actually, because I came home yesterday and all these trees were down,” said Bell.
Coun. Lanny Seaton said the motivation behind the project is to create a friendlier atmosphere for families by putting in flush toilets, picnic tables and a playground by lowering entire area of the beach, a feat he describes as impossible without the removal of the trees.
“If we don’t take the trees down we can’t go on with the project,” said Seaton.
Bell said she finds that hard to believe.
“I’m disappointed because I wonder if there could have been a more creative solution that didn’t involve cutting down these old trees but still allowed accessibilities to families,” she said.
The largest of the trees, a douglas fir, was 43 inches across at its base and estimated between 100 and 200 years old.
Seaton says smaller trees removed along the lake’s boardwalk was to increase visibility for police and bylaw officers who, he added, often respond to complaints of young people drinking while sitting on the structure. These “riff raff” as one of the men working on site called them are one of the reasons why families don’t find the beach an inviting place to be.
Another aspect of the issue that bothered both Bell and Thomas was the suddenness with which the project was carried out.
Seaton said that at a public Legion meeting in 2008 over 1,000 people voted for more beach accessibility throughout Langford and that although the plan had been to wait until 2015, they had money in the budget and decided to act on it.
“We had an opportunity to get it done and we got it done,” Seaton said.
The project follows similar ones already completed in Glen Lake Park that create infrastructure aimed at children and parents.
The request for proposals on the project opens Monday and closes April 29.