Mary Lake in Highlands is part of the greater Millstream watershed. The Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society aims to protect the area as a park.

Greenbelt Society to take over Highlands lake property

Organization plans to preserve area as a public park

A nature park at Mary Lake in Highlands is one step closer to becoming a reality following the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society’s (GVGS) acquisition of the property for $2.6 million.

Over the last six months, the society was able to raise $1.3 million through donations and partnerships, including a $100,000 contribution from GVGS chair Bob McMinn. The closing date on the purchase is Dec. 23.

The organization will now work to pay down the remaining $1.3 million in a similar fashion, before work can be started to get the park ready for public access, at which point it will be turned over to the District of Highlands as a municipal park.

The ultimate goal is to preserve the land as a 73-acre nature park anchored by Mary Lake and including surrounding forests, creeks and wetlands.

There are a few key aspects that make this an exciting project for both the Society and the District. The park will become the first with lake access in the western portion of the District, and it is being touted as an important environmental project.

“It’s sitting right in the middle of the Millstream watershed,” said Society spokesperson Koi Neah, noting that the watershed has been around roughly 13,000 years. “And (it) is not just what you see on the surface, it’s also the water tables and aquifer that are part of that, and it goes right down from the Todd range to the Esquimalt Harbour.”

Neah said it’s very important to protect the area from development.

An ecologist recently surveyed the area and found seven different ecosystems on the property, from dry coastal Douglas fir ecosystems to rocky outcrops and wetland areas.

“A lot of those ecosystems are set up in a particular combination that’s becoming really rare,” Neah added.

In addition to environmental considerations, the park will be fully accessible for those with mobility issues, as there is already a path that will permit access.

The ultimate plan is to have the park connect existing trail systems in Thetis Lake, Gowlland-Tod and Mount Work regional parks, creating a 25-kilometre hiking loop.

“That’s really important because it’s such a great loop. It goes through really spectacular scenery,” Neah said. “A lot of people are really looking forward to that.”

And while the future park is expected to provide recreational opportunities, including swimming, the goal remains to preserve its natural beauty.

“We’re definitely going to be stressing that aspect, because there’s a lot of little creatures that people don’t even notice that get really impacted by human use,” Neah said.

The timing of the purchase worked in the Society’s favour, as the original price tag of $4.6 million was brought down by $2 million after 20 acres were sold to a separate developer.

For more information on the park project, visit marylakeconnections.ca.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crews respond to house fire in Langford Monday night

Fire near Glen Lake Road and Haslam Avenue

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps amidst court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Upgrades for Colwood’s Brook Creek Dam pouring in

Improvements to mitigate risks for residents

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Most Read