Mary Lake property in Highlands added to CRD trail system

Parkland buffer still watched over by the District of Highlands

The final leg of a cross-municipal trail connector has been acquired by the Capital Regional District, completing a 25-kilometre loop that connects several of the region’s parks.

The CRD recently announced the acquisition of a 10-hectare (roughly 25 acre) parcel near Mary Lake in Highlands.

The forested property was purchased from the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society for $500,000. The trail corridor will be overseen by the CRD, as it crosses municipal boundaries.

In Highlands, the corridor is buffered by park lands.

“It’s a fabulous addition,” said Mayor Ken Williams, adding the trail will also act as a wildlife corridor. “It’s one of the true successes of the CRD.”

This final piece of the corridor will connect Thetis Lake Regional Park with Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. The parcel was targeted in the CRD’s regional parks land acquisition strategy and was purchased with funds designated for such a purpose.

It was part of more than 70 acres purchased by the Greenbelt Society last year for $2.6 million. The remaining property is being earmarked by the society for the Mary Lake Nature Park.

“The Greenbelt Society has big plans and we expect to hear from them as they unfold,” Williams said, noting that public input will be sought during the approval process.

Due to its central location in west Highlands, he added, the trail corridor, and potentially the new park, will benefit many residents. “It’s going to create a synergy with the community hall and community garden. It’s exciting stuff.”

He thanked the society for having the vision to get this process started and the CRD for creating the connector. “It’s pretty amazing … You can access it from anywhere,” Williams said, pointing to the ways the trail will link neighbouring municipalities.

To help bring the nature park to fruition, the Greenbelt Society is hosting a fundraiser event on April 29. Watch for more information in a future edition of the Gazette.