Lane Pommer, a fourth-year student at the University of Victoria, checks out the trails that run through Haro Woods. Pommer, who lives near the urban forest and has studied during one of his classes, uses the area to walk his dog. The District of Saanich is currently finalizing a plan to balance various uses. (Saanich News file photo)

Open house tackles future of Haro Woods Park

April 17 meeting at Goward House will address off-trail biking and other key issues

Saanich is asking the public to help map out the future of Haro Woods Park.

An open house is scheduled for Tuesday to review and comment on the latest developments to the Haro Woods Park draft management plan.

The open house – running from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Goward House – will focus on the plan that will contain a guiding vision for the park, supporting guidelines for its natural areas and recreational activities.

The 5.6-hectare park is located off Arbutus Road in the Cadboro Bay neighbourhood and is popular with a variety of users, from dog walkers to cyclists and runners.

The draft management plan describes Haro Woods as a “healthy urban forest” that is a “functioning ecosystem that welcomes respectful use,” but the nature of this “respectful use” remains in dispute, with no issue more contested than the question of off-trail biking.

“It can be resource-intensive to keep up with the jump and trail building which occurs regularly,” Coun. Dean Murdock said in a previous interview.

“Staff have made every effort to avoid this becoming a confrontational issue and have been actively working with the cycling community to find a solution that balances their desires with those in the community who want to preserve and protect the environment. Finding that balance is the remaining key challenge of the planning process.”

Off-trail biking will be one of the key issues addressed at the open house, with the public being asked for feedback on proposed management strategies.

Saanich staff will provide information about next steps for the draft plan and offer a survey to attendees.

For those unable to attend the open house, the open house materials and survey will be available at saanich.ca/parks from April 18 to May 2.


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