As the future of Haro Woods, a popular recreation area near the University of Victoria, hangs in the air, involved parties are either trying to create facts on the ground, or alternatively, erase them.
David Minty with the Friends of Haro Woods told members of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association on Sept. 25 in a posting that he had observed the disappearance of three jumps inside Haro Woods on Saturday, Sept. 22.
According to Minty, the area near the border between the District of Saanich and UVic, “appears to be a contentious area, as the bikers like the large drop off there for their jumps.”
Minty also told residents that he had seen a group of bikers digging in the area on Friday, Sept. 21, with the proviso that he could not precisely identify their locations.
Minty then reached out to UVic to determine whether its staff had removed the jumps. “I called UVic security today [Sept. 25] and they said that somebody probably did attend but that information was privileged and I would need to fill out a FOI request as to what occurred,” he said.
The Saanich News reached to UVic for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline.
This episode, with its clandestine overtones, underscores the uncertainty that surrounds Haro Woods.
Located off Arbutus Road in Saanich’s Cadboro Bay neighbourhood, the park has become a destination for walkers, joggers and cyclists, drawing users from inside and outside of Saanich. But this popularity has also caused environmental damage, while sparking conflict among groups of users, and the future of the park appears unknown.
Months after Saanich had promised to present its future plan for the area, it remains uncertain how and if cyclists will be able to use the area.
While Saanich staff want to allow “recreational and family cycling” in the popular recreation area, it has delayed the release of a management plan to solicit more input over the question of allowing cycling in the park and after residents launched a petition that asks Saanich to enforce its current prohibition against cycling in the area, an option that staff does not favour.
Part of the problem lies in the number of actors with stakes in the future of Haro Woods, which actually consists out of four parcels of land. Saanich owns two of them totaling 5.75 hectares, while the Capital Regional District and UVic own one parcel each. Overall, Saanich owns nearly three-quarters of the total area, but the vision, goals, and actions of the draft management plan apply only to the Saanich portion.