Colwood residents will soon get their final say on what will become the official parks management plans for Havenwood and Latoria Creek Parks.
Council unanimously approved draft versions of the plans on Monday (Jan. 9), paving the way for the project – which has been underway since last summer – to enter the home stretch. With Monday’s approval, the plans are set to go to public and stakeholder input stages over the next month, with feedback incorporated into final versions which are expected to return to council in March for final approval.
Each plan aims to provide 10 years of high-level guidance for the city on how best to manage and improve the parks, and are intended to be living documents which will evolve as needed. Each provides a list of recommendations for the city to consider moving forward.
In a presentation to council, three key recommendations in each plan were highlighted, with some applying to both parks.
The trail networks in both parks were recognized early on in the process as the beating heart of the community’s engagement with them, so recommendations in both reports were made to improve the existing trail networks.
In Havenwood, this includes adding boardwalks or footbridges in the riparian areas prone to flooding, closing some existing informal trails while incorporating others into the official trail network, and adding new trails to better connect the park to the surrounding neighbourhoods.
In Latoria Creek, trail improvement recommendations focused on improving park entrances and adding new entrances and trails to better connect with neighbouring areas, and making accessibility improvements to the park’s main trail – though the report noted the geography of the park limits how accessible it can be made.
Both park plans also highlight the need to make changes to regulations on dogs within their boundaries. In Havenwood, that would mean designating environmentally sensitive areas and the main trails as on-leash only, while in Latoria Creek it would mean requiring dogs to be on leash throughout the park.
The final highlighted recommendation for Havenwood Park is to protect sensitive bedrock outcrops and meadow areas by limiting access to those areas, and increasing interpretive signage around them.
The final highlight for Latoria Creek Park is to support park stewardship and programming through continuing existing collaboration with neighbours and forming a stewardship group based on the success of the Friends of Havenwood Park.
City staff will now work to share the draft plans with stakeholders and the public in order to collect a final round of input before final revisions are made and the plans are returned to council for endorsement.