The south wharf at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is gone as staff start to ““reestablish the wild-space.”
The wharf – built in the 1990s and located near the Lochside Regional Trail – was initially closed to the public back in July 2019, said Kathleen Burton, executive director of the nature sanctuary.
Following an assessment of the wooden structure’s safety and viability, the sanctuary board determined that the time had come to tear down the old wharf and let the area “re-naturalize,” Burton said. The south wharf, a favourite spot for many Saanich residents, was “beyond repair, having been weathered by the forces of nature,” she explained.
Staff began dismantling the wharf in mid-March and by the beginning of April, it was gone. The team was able to make quick work of the demolition because the Nature House has been closed for almost a month – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – so staff were able to redirect their focus, Burton said.
She added that the demolition needed to be done quickly as staff were concerned that the province would send them home in light of the health crisis, meaning that there would be no one to stop residents from climbing the barricades and heading out onto the deteriorated wharf.
Even though signs were posted near all the areas that are off-limits to the public, staff were still consistently reminding people not to climb over the barricade or vandalize it, Burton said. Protecting those visiting the nature sanctuary is something staff take very seriously, she added.
Now that demolition is complete, the area will remain off-limits to the public because staff are “giving the area back to nature” to “reestablish the wild-space,” Burton explained. She noted that animals started moving back into the area while staff were still in the process of removing the wharf.
Burton understands that many are disappointed that the wharf won’t be replaced, but emphasized that it’s in the best interest of the critters that call Swan Lake home. She asks that visitors remain on the path and respect that the nature sanctuary is meant to be a safe place for the plants and animals.