If Saanich residents didn’t already know about the amazing array of parks and trails their municipality has, COVID-19 has created the perfect opportunity to get out and explore.
Not only has the pandemic struck at the very time we want to be outside, but parks provide the opportunity to exercise at a safe distance from our neighbours, and connect with nature in a meaningful, accessible way. On top of that, it’s great for our mental health and wellbeing whatever our mobility or fitness level is. Even having a quiet moment on a park bench is good for us.
Diversity in amenities and landscape
Saanich is home to more than 170 parks and over 100 kilometres of trails, providing all manner of outdoor experiences.
“Definitely for me, the diversity is significant,” says Eva Riccius, senior manager of parks in Saanich. “You’ll find everything from beginner trails to longer, more challenging trails in places like Mt. Douglas or Mt. Tolmie parks, to the little neighbourhood connectors we have.”
Add to that, parks in urban neighbourhoods and rural communities, forests and meadows, playgrounds and sport courts, waterparks and beaches, and you have destinations to take you through summer and far beyond! “We do have it all!”
Boulderwood Park in Broadmead is a great example of a park that many residents might not have heard of, but provides a diversity of landscapes and experiences. Part Garry oak meadow, part old growth Douglas fir forest, depending on which part of the park you’re in, “you also get a totally different view of Mt. Douglas,” Eva says.
Others, like the spectacular Gorge Waterway waterfront park, may be out of sight, out of mind for those living on the other side of the municipality, but has an amazing accessible pathway right along the water.
Get out and explore
Saanich Recreation’s free walking tours are another great way to discover some possibilities you may not have thought of.
- Gentle Walk and Talk 55+ – Enjoy fresh air, beautiful scenery, friendly chat and gentle exercise during different walks through Saanich parks and trails. Walks follow mainly chip or gravel trails but may have some steep sections. Mondays and Thursdays 9:30 to 11 a.m. with John Henigman; dogs not permitted; registration required.
Sunday Walks – Discover the beauty of Saanich parks and nature in your backyard. Guided walks are open to adults of all ages. Wear sturdy footwear and bring drinking water. Walks go rain or shine, Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. with Penny Stevens and Robert Newell; leashed, well-socialized dogs are welcome; registration required.
So many possibilities for getting out and exploring! “With our focus on staying local this summer, 170 parks offer just so much to explore,” Eva says.
To learn more about all the opportunities coming up from Saanich Parks and Recreation, visit the online welcome back update. And to stay up-to-date about the resumption of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, Facilities, Programs and Activities, sign-up to receive an e-newsletter conveniently delivered directly to your inbox.