Had a surprisingly good time Thursday night at the meeting hall at St George's church on Maynard. There was an Open House to share information about Saanich Parks' plans for changes over the next twenty or thirty years to the marvelous park on Cadboro Bay called Cadboro Gyro Park.
It was a lot of fun to see the room fill up with local residents. Most couldn't interpret what the maps on display were supposed to convey. Many couldn't see well to read the tiny lettering. Many couldn't hear the speakers. The first speaker began reading from Saanich Parks' factsheet about the history of the park, saying that the Gyro Club purchased the original 4.37 acres of park land from the Goward estate in 1953 and donated the land to Saanich. In 1961, Saanich began acquiring adjacent parcels, bringing the park up to 14.88 acres (6.022 hectares) in size. He was interrupted.
"They didn't acquire that land," a woman said hotly. "They EXPROPRIATED it."
"And we're off," I murmured to Bernie.
Turns out Saanich has a "Master Plan" that has taken ideas into consideration from a number of community stakeholders. Not everybody, though... particularly, not people who bring their small boats into the park and take them away after a day on the water. Some parts of this Master Plan are pretty good. Other parts need more input from the people who USE the park. It would be terrific, for example, if the boat compounds currently used by the UVic Sailing Club and the Cadboro Bay Sailing Association could also have an area to store kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and windsurfing boards. But that ain't gonna happen unless people bring this idea to the attention of Saanich Parks.
It would also be great if people who need handicap-accessible parking had convenient parking close to the public restrooms and promenade. But since there are four bus stops right by the two entrances to Gyro Park, I think that people should be encouraged whenever possible to take the bus to the park instead of driving there. And as for bike racks -- well, one bike rack by the public restrooms is just not enough. People are locking their bikes to trees and to benches and the chain link fences.
More bike racks and maybe even a Bike Kitchen! Handicap-accessible parking! Signs at bus stops saying "Welcome to Cadboro Gyro Park!" Kayak storage!
This is important, y'know. Saanich Parks is not trying to be a draconian government institution, they're trying to operate the parks people need and use. If you use this park at all, especially if you use small boats such as kayaks, canoes, rowboats, or sailboats, be sure to go to the Saanich Parks website on plans for Cadboro Bay's Gyro Park . Look at the Fact Sheet and Master Plan, which in spite of the name is actually a tentative suggestion from the landscaping architects hired to outline possible renovation ideas for Gyro Park. Then fill out the comment sheet, either by downloading the form & printing it out or completing it online. Saanich is collecting input using this comment sheet until July 15, 2010. Even after that, the process of changing the park should be pretty gradual. And it'll only get better if people participate in the process.