Important Decisions for the future of Cedar Hill PArk

April 2019

Letter from the board:

Your opportunity to respond to proposed action items for Cedar Hill Park Open House, 2 – 5pm, Saturday, May 4th at Cedar Hill Rec Centre 

What is YOUR vision for Cedar Hill Park? Be sure to attend the Open House from 2 – 5 pm on Saturday, May 4th at the Cedar Hill Rec Centre for a further opportunity to influence the Management Plan for the park’s future. You can also participate in a survey on Saanich’s website at Saanich.ca/parks from May 6th to June 7th before the plan is finalized and presented to Council for approval. 

Since McRae Farm became Cedar Hill Park in 1967, this is the first Management Plan for the Park. The Friends of Cedar Hill Park Society and Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association participated on the planning process’ Stakeholder Working Group, attending numerous meetings since 2017. Our priority throughout has been on protecting and restoring green and natural spaces and maintaining a responsible balance of recreational use of the park. 

Two important issues have emerged through the planning process: 

  1. Development      of the hillside meadow below the McRae farmhouse 

The hillside meadow from the McRae farmhouse to the Cedar Hill Arts wing has been identified as a possible location for development: 

  • A bike skills track or similar: We think this type of development       would damage a unique landscape, impact the serenity of the surroundings       and compromise a much-valued and loved Saanich historic site. 
  • A children’s playground area: Given the lack of amenities for       children in the park, we think this is a reasonable proposal if planned       with sensitivity to the heritage farmhouse and hillside setting. 

We think it’s important to let Saanich know that neighbours and users of the Park value the open green spaces, the remnant Garry Oak ecosystems, the historical McRae farmhouse setting and the vistas that would be affected by development on the slope. 

  1. Opening up a      North to South cycling trail 

In 2003, Saanich Council recognized the safety issues associated with cycling on the popular Chip Trail around Cedar Hill Park. The trail is used by 12,000 to 14,000 pedestrians a month for exercise and enjoyment. Council passed a motion requiring cyclists to dismount on all trails in the park with the exception of the Derby east-west connector trail. 

The provision of a north to south cycling route from Ascot Drive to Derby Road has been proposed. Saanich requires that bike trails are 3 to 5 metres wide with an additional one metre cleared either side. We believe such a plan would: 

  • Lead to      significant loss of open green space and natural wooded areas along the      very narrow, winding chip trail if it is widened or a dedicated cycling      path is constructed. 
  • The risk of      accidents between cyclists and pedestrians, dog walkers and runners will      increase if biking is permitted on all or part of the Chip Trail. 

At the May 4th Open House and through the survey, we encourage you to support the existing ‘cyclists dismount’ policy on the Trail. We also urge you to vote against a dedicated bike trail being constructed to conserve the natural areas that would otherwise be lost or damaged. 

Other Cedar Hill Park Plan Updates 

From our work on the Stakeholder Working Group we believe there will be recommendations in the Park Management Plan that will address: the future of the Ball Fields area; the restoration of Bowker Creek; plans for the gravel parking area west of Bowker Creek that could include parking and a bike skills training area or similar. We believe that Saanich should provide the community with more detailed proposals prior to moving forward. 

Also of note, Saanich Parks published a ‘Recreation Market Analysis Study’ of their four Rec Centres and services on April 8th. The recommendations for Cedar Hill Rec Centre would replace the existing gymnasium with a larger, full-size gymnasium facility and double the size of the fitness facility as a priority. 

The Management Plan for Cedar Hill Park is the first time Saanich has worked with the community to develop a plan for the green spaces and natural areas of the park. This is our opportunity to share our visions for the preservation of the Park for future generations, and for all species that live in it. Please take this opportunity to ensure your ideas and concerns are submitted to Saanich through the May 4th Open House and survey. 

For more information please visit our websites: 

Friends of Cedar Hill Park: http://www.friendsofcedarhillpark.com Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association: https://www.qchca.org 

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