Since the Mount Douglas Park access review open house, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to puzzle through the larger implications of what is being recommended.
I’ve been focusing primarily on the study’s recommendations with respect to the vehicular parking areas. I’m starting to wonder if the department is shooting too low, with proposed actions that are “low bar” and “small bore”.
In summary, the recommendations appear to me to comprise a changes-at-the-margin approach, with a little tidying up here, a bit more over there, and that’s the sum of it. I’m not sure why Parks has decided on this approach, but nevertheless, that’s how it appears.
I think a larger opportunity to do something a bit more meaningful about the substandard parking sites within/around the park is going to be missed, i.e., substantially fixing the beach parking lot, tidying up Cedar Rill Road, fixing Glendenning Road, and upgrading Blenkinsop side-road parking in an reasonable manner.
To the residents, the review is an opportunity to have their concerns considered/addressed by staff and, subsequently, council.
To the Parks Department, the review should be an opportunity for finally making the parking areas more of something that the district/residents can appreciate and take pride in. And if getting to that state requires some extra funding from council, then parks should take the opportunity to ask.
At this point, we have the attention of mayor, council and residents of Saanich. They’re awaiting recommendations from the department that will reasonably satisfy the stakeholders. And if that means specifically allocating additional funds to make that happen, then that should be requested.
In my opinion, it is Park’s responsibility to put together the best plan that meets the required needs. It will then be council determination as to whether or not additional funding is required. Parks should not inadvertently assume what is properly the role of council by pre-anticipating council’s response.
To conclude, the review is going to be a once-in-a-decade chance to make adequate, appropriate changes to the parking situation at Mt. Doug Park. And, for some of us, this is likely to be our only opportunity. So, I ask that the department think neither too low, nor too small.
In the end, that does no one – not council, not staff, not park users, nor residents in general – a service. And sadly, that would be the worst outcome of all.