Volunteer work in park attracts unwanted attention

Volunteer accused of culling invasive species without a licence

I was recently at Mount Douglas Park, down on my hands on knees pulling out daphne, when two of Saanich’s finest show up out of the blue for a little discussion. It seems a neighbour phoned in to complain about my skulking or lurking (or something) around his property, apparently in some kind of threatening-like manner.

I gave the officers my name, which they phoned in for background check. I then explained that I was a longtime invasive species volunteer in Mt. Doug Park, normally working Mondays and Tuesdays, 52 weeks a year.

I advised that we had recently completed the clearing of some 14 acres of mature broom in the West Blenkinsop section of the park, and subsequently had moved to the area immediately beside the Blenkinsop Road. The new location is seriously infested with daphne, mixed with ivy, and needs some heavy-duty attention to clean out the area. I might add that, at the time of our conversation, I’m wearing my work goggles, knee pads, and heavy-duty work gloves, equipment not really conducive to skulking or lurking.

At the end of the conversation, they tell me to stay off the neighbour’s property, which is redundant since I haven’t been working on his property in the first place. Then they take off and I again get back down on my hands and knees, and return to the task of culling more daphne and ivy.

Some time later, the two officers show up again. It appears they’ve spent the intervening period researching my volunteer status. And in so many words, it seemed I’m now accused of culling invasive species without a licence.  This is all a bit odd, since I’ve been volunteering continuously in the park for the last 11 years with the full knowledge of parks department staff.

So, anyway, the officers boot me out of the park, with no real reason or justification otherwise provided. It appears that, to the Saanich Police department, my volunteer work, down on hands and knees, in rain or shine, serving the environment and the community to the best of my ability, was nothing more than a one-man, 11 year, mini-crime spree.

It was the end of my shift, so I decided that it was probably better to go visit the parks department to ascertain just what the heck was going down, which I subsequently did. At this point, all I can conclude is that residents within the Blenkinsop Valley Community Association area certainly receive a high level of personalized municipal service for their tax dollars. The rest of us, unfortunately, not quite so much.

Dave Poje





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