No expensive consultants needed on Taylor Park – Cowichan Valley Citizen

No expensive consultants needed on Taylor Park

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” – Joni Mitchell

Are your property taxes going up this year? The majority of our CVRD directors seem determined to increase our taxes by approving unnecessary spending. At the April 27 CVRD board meeting only five of the 15 directors voted against hiring a consulting firm to determine the feasibility of creating a 100-vehicle parking lot in Taylor Park. The cost for consultants will likely be $ 30,000, monies that could be better spent elsewhere.

Taylor Park in Shawnigan Lake is a five-acre park that is a tiny jewel of critical habitat, comprised of streams, wetlands and forest. Running through the park are three streams that unite before they exit the park with the common stream ultimately entering the West Arm of Shawnigan Lake. Coho salmon fry, progeny of the coho salmon transferred to the Shawnigan Creek watershed by the Mill Bay and District Conservation Society volunteers, have been documented this spring in the Taylor Park stream. Taylor Park connects to Renfrew Road by a 200-meter long and 12-meter wide panhandle. The south side of the panhandle is either stream, wetland or immediately adjacent to wetland. A 100-vehicle parking lot with a long access road will have a major negative impact on the riparian and forested areas of the park. Negative impacts including destruction of wetlands and forest as well as the release of fish toxins from vehicle tires. A recent study has shown that the absence of coho salmon from Puget Sound urban streams was due to the presence of 6APP-quinone, a fish toxin derived from rubber tires.

The modernization of the CVRD’s Harmonized Official Community Plan (OCP) has eight policy objectives. One of the objectives is to “Protect and Enhance Natural Assets”, with natural assets being defined as critical habitats such as wetlands and forests necessary for many creatures. During this past rainy Easter Monday, members of the Cowichan Valley Naturalists did a survey along the trail that meanders through the park and noted that in this very restricted part of the park, during the hour-long survey, 39 species of plants were recorded as as well as many species of lichens and fungi. It would appear that Taylor Park is precisely the critical habitat that the modernized OCP proclaims must be preserved.

Many people have pointed out to the CVRD that such a parking lot will damage much of the wetlands, streams and forest within Taylor Park. Also pointed out was that the narrow panhandle is not wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic that includes buses, drainage ditches and walking paths. In a presentation to the CVRD, the Shawnigan Basin Society indicated that the Riparian Area Protection Regulations require a 30-meter Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area (SPEA) and such SPEAs would occupy most of Taylor Park. When hearing this, Mr. Ian Morrison, a CVRD director, said: “Yes SPEAs can be 30 meters. QPs (ie, Qualified Professionals) can bend SPEAs. QPs can make the most efficient use of the legislation that can either make things happen or make things not happen. ” This can be found at minute 57 onwards of the April 27 CVRD regular board meeting. I am not sure what Mr. Morrison meant but it could be interpreted that QPs have the ability to thwart the intent of the SPEA legislation to protect riparian areas.

I invite anyone to visit Taylor Park to determine whether a QP is needed to determine whether streams, riparian areas and wetlands would be negatively affected by the construction of a large parking lot. If you are not sure where Taylor Park is, please contact the Shawnigan Basin Society and a tour can be arranged. Most people can recognize streams as well as wetlands, particularly when skunk cabbage is in bloom. Does the CVRD really need to spend your tax dollars on expensive consultants to determine if this jewel of a park is a good place for a parking lot when alternative sites are available?

I feel that I have fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole. Why does a Joni Mitchel song come to mind?

Bernhard HJ Juurlink

Mill Bay


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