Saanich Parks responds to concerns about unauthorized bike jumps in Haro Woods

Gary Darrah of Saanich Parks writes in response to emails from Friends of Haro Woods regarding the unauthorized bike jumps in the wood:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Unfortunately, we’re not able to get to the site as often as the local community due to the many other projects and duties that consume all of our staff time. Your vigilance is appreciated. In reviewing your message there appears to be four connected issues here:

  1. Ongoing rebuilding of unauthorized bike jumps
  2. Signage
  3. Awareness/Education in the community
  4. Planning for the park 

I will attempt to address them as follows:

Andrew Giles, Parks Construction and Maintenance Manager is your first point of contact for removal of the bike jumps. When Andrew and I met with you earlier this year there was a commitment made to remove the jumps as they reappear. Andrew has directed his staff to remove these latest jumps and I believe they will get to the site in the next few days. With wet weather upon us there will be limited times when our crews can access the area without causing further mess. 

We also discussed the pros and cons of signage as an effective way to control the situation. After some consideration it was felt that this likely wouldn’t be an effective way to control the problem. If youth (and young adults) want to ride  and build unauthorized jumps in the park they will do so with or without signage. In fact, our experience has been that this type of signage actually gets destroyed or defaced by the very audience it is intended to reach.

Doing some education in the community might have some chance of success but at this time we don’t know what this looks like or what resources would need to be committed. We’d be interested in talking some more about this suggestion but U. Vic is obviously a key partner in any outreach that would be done. Perhaps the community association would be interested in helping out as well.

Developing a management plan for the new park is on our work plan but as Rae Roer, Senior Parks Manager has indicated this is still some time off in the future. Yet, even with a park management plan in place there is no certainty that a bike skills facility would be included until there has been a good deal of consultation, public engagement and support. I anticipate that our Natural Areas Guidelines will provide a strong framework to help guide the planning process for the site. Any park planning process is confronted with lots of competing interests and values and there will likely be strong interest in minimizing any developed facilities in the park. An opportunity may present itself on the CRD site but it would be premature and inappropriate to commit to any decisions regarding this.  

Additionally, a plan will still not address all of the ongoing operational issues and unauthorized activities that sometimes occur in our parks. The real solution is in finding a suitable location for this type of facility. Given the limited land base available in our parks and likely local opposition to a facility of this kind, finding a location will be a challenge. We would be interested in working with the local community on finding some potential locations as there is obviously local interest (eg. a young fellow named Evan Guilford, age 11 recently contacted the C.A. expressing some positive interest).

In the past two years Saanich Parks has responded at least three times to removing the jumps. We are interested in a more lasting solution that reduces our staff time but also serves a need in the community. The challenge is that there are few opportunities for an immediate solution. In the coming weeks and months we will initiate discussions with the Cadboro Bay Residents Association to determine if there is a willingness to assist with some of the above issues particularly the messaging and awareness building piece.“

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