LETTER: Public must step up efforts to save Saanich park

I was perhaps a wee harsh on the Parks Department in my last letter –“Mount Doug Park subject to benighted neglect” – because there’s another culprit with responsibility for the deterioration of the park.

In my preceding letter, I described the difference in management of the park and the Gordon Head Rec Centre. The first suffers a “light touch” management model, whereas the latter has a full panoply of staff and funding. To emphasize the difference, I queried what would happen to the rec centre if it was run like the park. The answer: likely rapid deterioration of programs and plant and equipment. At that point, I stopped too soon. I should have asked the further question: what would the users do in response to a severe change in management style at the rec centre.

My belief is there’d be a major revolt by users: petitions galore; letters to the editor swamping Saanich News, council meetings full to the brim with angry residents. And council were very likely make changes, just like they did under pressure at the Cedar Hill Rec Centre with the private tennis court proposal.

Now, let’s compare their response to that of park user’s to the ongoing degradation of their park. Truly, silence is golden.

The question then raises the issue of why the probable difference between rec centre and park users. Perhaps, the former are more militant as they push their weights, swim, etc.; kind of Type A personality types. Whereas the latter are more passive, nature loving, stroll-in-the-park, don’t rock-the-boat individuals.

So, the next time you use the park and you notice the sand washing down on Whittaker or the severe erosion of the little Mt. Doug lookout trail, be sure to feel a twinge of wonder, and then move quickly on to enjoy the rest of your walk.

And the next morning, when you look in the mirror, think for a quick sec that the problems of the park are directly traceable back that culprit reflected in the mirror – you. There alone final lesson to be learned here. It’s axiomatic (I’ve learned from hard experience) that if you don’t really care, the council doesn’t care. And if council doesn’t care, the departments don’t care. There is a bit of silver lining, though, about resident passivity. Councillors and staff get to sleep much better at night without the controversy.

Dave Poje


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