May 15, 2014
Good Afternoon Outgoing and Incoming CBRA Executive,
As a follow up to the Gyro Park discussions at the AGM last night, we would like to make the following points:
As part of Saanich Park’s efforts to make Gyro Park (including the beach) more accessible to wheelchairs, etc.,a series of asphalt and concrete pathways is planned. The asphalt part of the plan consists of a 5 metre-wide (that’s over 16 feet!) from the washroom building and all the way to the beach, as well as an even-wider asphalt promenade abutting the beach, plus other asphalt pathways of various widths and lengths meandering through the park. The concrete part of the plan involves concrete walkways to picnic tables installed at two Group Picnic areas that are to be built. The proposed plans can be seen on this map with the asphalt and concrete parts depicted in grey: Cadboro-Gyro Park Playground and Pathway Concept Plan.
While there is broad support in the community for measures to increase accessibility for the handicapped to Gyro Park and the adjacent beach, one concern is that Saanich Park’s latest accessibility plan has been developed without proper input from the Cadboro Bay community. At the June 19, 2013 Gyro Park Public Open House organised by Saanich Parks, an “Accessibility Panel” was displayed. (This panel is included as a PDF attachment to the Cadboro-Gyro Park Playground and Pathway Concept Plan linked to in the previous paragraph.) However, this panel only dealt with the proposed concrete ramp and “seasonal mats” to the beach, which was subsequently installed in the Fall of 2013. There was nothing on this panel outlining Saanich Park’s much more ambitious plans for asphalt and concrete pathways crisscrossing the park. To the best of our knowledge, the CBRA Parks Committee, which worked tireless on the Gyro Park planning file for at least eighteen months, was not aware of these plans. Nor was the outgoing CBRA Executive apparently aware of this feature of the Gyro Park plan until last night, when it was brought it to their attention, even though Saanich Parks met with the CBRA Executive on April 9.
Another ‘process’ issue concerning the latest accessibility plan is: if not the Cadboro Bay community, who did Saanich Parks consult with regarding their ambitious project? Did they consult with Recreation Integration Victoria, for instance?
Beyond the ‘process’ issue, there are a number of questions surrounding the actual accessibility proposal, including, but not limited to the following:
1. Is this elaborate network of artificial ( i.e. concrete and asphalt ) pathways really necessary in order to improve access to the various elements of the park and adjoining beach for the handicapped, or are there other viable alternatives out there that are more natural, perhaps, and less extensive?;
2. Put another way, would it not be possible to achieve the highly-laudable accessibility objective for Gyro Park without using asphalt and/or concrete? In other words, are
there other materials or surfaces out there that are, for instance, both wheelchair- and environment-friendly?
3. Is it really necessary to have a 5 metre asphalt pathway from the entrance to the park all the way to the beach, or could a narrower pathway, perhaps with a more natural surface that is nonetheless wheelchair-friendly, be designed?;
4. Does this extensive network of artificial surfaces for Gyro Park run counter to the community vision for a park that maintains to the greatest extent possible its natural character?;
At last night’s CBRA AGM, Jonathan Stoppi, the outgoing CBRA Chairman, indicated that the CBRA Executive will contact Saanich to request that they modify their plans for the aforementioned asphalt and concrete surfaces.
We hereby request that the new CBRA executive convene a meeting with Saanich Parks as soon as possible to discuss the matter of artificial surfaces at Gyro Park, and that the community be informed of this meeting with a notice to that effect being posted on the CBRA bulletin board in Cadboro Bay Village, as well as on the CBRA website. Otherwise, we may end up with a network of unnatural pathways in the park that the community is not happy with.
Gerald and Harriet Graham
Cadboro Bay Residents Association Members