Depending on who you ask, Saanich was recently either at risk of losing precious parkland or was on the verge of transforming unused land into an active tennis facility.
Cedar Hill Park was the target of a development application that was eventually scrapped by council. The plan, from the Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society, drew long lines of opponents.
One of the more common themes heard from protesters who spoke to council was, “I have nothing against tennis – just not here.”
This is why long-term visions for parks like Cedar Hill are so crucial. Everyone and their dog has an idea of what makes a great park, and unfortunately not everyone will get their way when all is said and done.
The community is an important stakeholder in decision-making around these public assets. Parks are owned by the municipality, and therefore belong to the taxpayers.
We’ve seen it at Mount Douglas Park and Tod Creek Inlet, where taxpayers – average Saanich residents and park lovers – form societies that focus on natural preservation of our shared lands.
So we welcome the newly formed Friends of Cedar Hill Park, and give them huge kudos for hitting the ground running on creating both short- and long-term goals for the park.
In the short-term, they are continuing on with the long-standing volunteer work of passionate people by targeting invasive species throughout the park. It will take years, if not decades, to completely take back the park from non-native vegetation, but the work that’s already underway will benefit the park for generations to come.
And with an eye on the future, the society will help ensure the community gets a strong, unified voice whenever Saanich decides to create a long-term vision for Cedar Hill Park.
In the meantime, taxpayers need to remember that parks are an asset owned by us. By volunteering some time to help the natural environment thrive, we’ll be doing our part to ensure our 160-plus parks remain assets we all want to use.