A plaque in View Royal dating from 1959 marks Helmcken Bay as the place where sailing ships in the mid-1800s stopped to replenish their supply of fresh water. The cairn stands next to a pathway leading to the Limekiln water viewpoint

Residents can have say on View Royal parks strategy

Public open house slated for next Wednesday at the Town Hall

View Royal residents are invited to the Town Hall next Wednesday (April 13) to check out the proposed parks master plan, which details priorities for park acquisition and improvements of existing parks over the next 20 years.

The recommendations, ranging from improved water access to Portage Inlet and Esquimalt Harbour, to replacing playground equipment and completing trail connections, were based on feedback received from the public in a variety of settings. Those included an online questionnaire, plus a World Café workshop and open house event on Feb. 3 during which ideas were exchanged and suggestions made.

Coun. John Rogers, who co-chairs the Town’s parks advisory committee, says the feedback received so far has been positive. But he’s also been surprised by some of the reaction to information presented by Town staffers.

“What was really interesting with some of the folks who were there, was really how unaware they were of the parks that exist in their community,” he says. “One of the things we’ve got to do more of is to let people know about what things exist in their municipality.”

His hope for the upcoming open house is that planners get a final sense of how residents feel about the overall direction the Town would like to take. After that, he says, the committee will go through the plan “line by line” and group the recommendations into three general categories: playground replacement, trail development connecting communities, and boat access into the two main bodies of water surrounding the municipality.

Council has already supported the idea of an access ramp on Shoreline Drive adjacent to the middle school, he says. It will be a multi-purpose ramp, designed for both recreational boaters, students in the school’s canoe club, and emergency services.

“I can’t believe it’s been 25 years where we’ve never had an access ramp where the fire department could get a zodiac in there quickly.” Fire Chief Paul Hurst has approved the plan as being appropriate for the department’s needs, Rogers says.

In all, he says, there are six locations around the municipality that could be considered for improved community water access. One of those is Portage Linear Park, a long strip of green space that runs parallel to the Trans Canada Highway and was a former rest stop and boat launch prior to the remodelling of the TCH.

Lindsay Chase, the Town’s director of development services, said designing a long-term parks plan requires looking at public use of major assets such as View Royal Centennial and Portage parks, and smaller areas of green space.

“Our parks need to meet a huge variety of needs, from people who are interested in having a ball game or playing tennis, to those little pockets of tranquility in our community that provide so much to people who want to reconnect with nature.”

The April 13 open house runs from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 45 View Royal Ave. For more information visit viewroyal.ca.


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