Discover Saanich’s hidden gems

Volunteers pull together to support these natural landscapes

What’s your favourite hidden gem among Saanich’s park system? With more than 170 parks throughout the municipality, chances are there’s a special place near you just waiting to be discovered!

“There’s a hidden gem in every neighbourhood,” says Katie Turner, Saanich Parks Stewardship Coordinator, who oversees the many volunteer stewards working to remove invasive species from local parks. “You can escape the crowds and connect with nature in a lesser known park close to home,” she says.

Discovering these smaller hidden parks is so much fun, and will bring you close to nature, while developing an affinity for this special part of the world, and maybe inspire you to join others in your community to help care for it.

Through Saanich’s “Pulling Together” volunteer program, hands-on community projects are active in more than 40 parks and natural spaces, volunteers remove invasive species such as Scotch broom, English ivy and Himalayan blackberry. With support from Parks staff, volunteers can also undertake habitat restoration, reintroducing native species, improving wildlife habitat, monitoring restoration efforts and educating others in the community.

“Community stewardship has made a huge impact,” Katie adds. Parks staff have limited capacity to remove invasive plants and restore all of these areas themselves, so the help of volunteer stewards is essential to ecosystem health. “For residents, it’s a chance to experience special natural places close to home, care for them and explore our ‘natural intelligence,’ or ‘nature smarts’ that’s so important to the future of our community and well-being.”

If you’re on the lookout for a hidden gem this summer, find one close to where you live. Here’s a look at 5 of Katie’s favourite lesser-known parks across Saanich.

  1. Camrose ParkIn the Quadra-Cedar Hill area, the 1.58-hectare Camrose Park features a rocky Garry oak outcrop with trails.
  2. Swan Creek At close to 14ha, this Carey Road-area greenspace follows Swan Creek, meandering from Swan Lake to Interurban, where it joins the Colquitz River. Featuring dense forests opening, grassy fields and walking trails, Swan Creek Park is also home to the Capital City allotment gardens.
  3. Doumac ParkThis 4.53ha forested neighbourhood park in Cordova Bay follows the ravine typography along Revans Creek. Some rustic trails are accessible only by long wooden staircases.
  4. Arbutus Cove This treasured Gordon Head beach features a naturalistic area with trails to the sheltered cove, with a mix of rocky sections and sandy beach.
  5. Beckwith Park Many residents know this North Quadra park for its playground, water park and sports fields, but beyond these active spaces, trails weave through a Garry oak forest adjacent to ponds.

Discover more special Saanich places to explore this summer at saanich.ca/EN/main/parks-recreation-community/parks.html. To learn how you can get involved in the Saanich community stewardship program, click here or call Katie at 250-475-5522.

RELATED READING: Your Saanich beach day begins here!

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