Resthaven Park in Sidney is an open green space with waterfront walkways and an emphasis on public leisure use. It features views and access to Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which was established almost a century ago in 1931. It’s enjoyed by the community, by international, and local birdwatchers, professional and amateur photographers and home to more than 40 species of marine birds as well as more than 40 species of passerine (perching) birds, many not found elsewhere in Canada. Pacific great blue herons, a B.C.-listed species at risk, are spotted almost daily feeding in the shallow mudflats (www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-bird-sanctuaries/locations/shoal-harbour.html).
Three years ago, based on community feedback the recommendation for Resthaven Park was a Harbour Management Plan, enhancing the wildlife habitat, expanding the playground facilities to include a nature park, restore and enhance the shoreline to include native plantings, as well as a sheltered picnic area, all of which was incorporated into the Parks Master Plan (PMP) in March 2019. I respect the PMP is a living document, but how did it go astray so quickly – no mention of an off-leash dog park. Sidney council is giving up on the PMP to create an off-leash dog park, this makes no sense.
Resthaven Park is not only the gateway to Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary but it is a family park, a multigenerational park. Throughout the day, everyday you will see people enjoying the park. A young family with their children, grandparents pushing their grandchildren in strollers or seniors out for a stroll enjoying the fresh air, the view, many with dogs, loving their community. The park has allowed a safe haven for friends and family to safely meet, while we navigate this pandemic.
There are many dogs that enjoy the park today, their owners recognizing the importance of the delicate balance between wildlife and nature.
Introducing an off-leash dog park is putting all of this in jeopardy. Resthaven Park is a community park to be enjoyed by everyone, let’s keep it that way.
Jane Batty (and Abigail, my dog)