Mayor Leonard’s claim that opposition to Gyro park upgrades has gone on for 28 years has everything with trying to paint himself as the sole champion for “progress.” The facts speak differently.
Park users and the local community has been clamoring for upgrades for decades, to address winter flooding of the park, particularly its playground and parking lot, that make them unusable for much of the year.
In response, Saanich Parks has developed a number of plans over the years, none of which have addressed the basic concerns of flooding. Instead, they have proposed adding paths that encroach on the popular multi-use central field, and a lot of additions such as an amphitheatre, a parking lot at the Cadboro Bay Road entrance.
In short, public support for each of these plans was lacking, leading Saanich to favour a “You can’t please everybody, so, lets not bother, and get on with it” attitude.
A significant factor in Saanich’s failure to develop a broadly supported park plan has been their inability to listen to the public. Instead, they focused on selling their own plans, disregarding public input.
By contrast the Cadboro Bay Residents Association Parks Committee (2013), through community engagement and active listening has shown that it is possible to develop a broadly supported park plan. What prevented Saanich and the mayor from supporting this plan?