The Parks Department of Saanich Municipality has formulated a Park Management Schedule that it is submitting to the Council for approval at its meeting on Monday, February 15th, 2016
The purpose of this report is to outline key issues involving the preparation of park management plans, how to assign plan priorities and to recommend those parks which should be the focus of management plans over the next few years.
In September 2014 staff gave the Parks, Trail and Recreation Committee a presentation on park planning in Saanich. Parts of the presentation covered the different types of park plans, identified some planning challenges and revealed some lessons learned during recent park planning projects. On November 26, 2015 the Committee was presented with more information on how to establish priorities when determining candidate parks.
A park management plan sets out the general vision and management direction for a park. It is developed with public and stakeholder consultation.
Management plans are frequently developed as a means of resolving conflict, addressing specific issues or laying out a pro-active approach for park stewardship. They often deal with recreational user conflict, and balancing human use and access with environmental concerns. They may include detailed development and operations instructions for carrying out the actions. They do not serve the same purpose as park maintenance manuals or park standards.
Management plans also typically include an overview reference to relevant policies alongwith environmental, recreation, historical and other relevant background information. Key issues driving the plan are explored in depth and recommendations to solve them are provided. They often also provide a summary of the planning process including public participation, implementation steps and general budget information.
Generally, the larger more heavily used and less programmed a park is the more likely it is to have management issues. These are very often related to the environment or visitor activities or volumes and are most difficult to deal with when the conflicting or impacting activity(ies) may be well established in the park. The activity may only have become a problem as the number of people participating in it grew and/or where the number of other users increased resulting in negative impacts and/or conflict.
It is worth noting that other jurisdictions face very similar situations in the management of their park systems. Many public organizations are challenged by capacity and/or resource limitations and must develop appropriate ways to determine project priorities.
Based on recent experiences particularly with the Cuthbert Holmes Management Plan, the creation of Park Management Plans can be influenced by:
• Very high public expectations with outcome and level of consultation
• Public participation: reaching all stakeholders
• Organized opposition preventing resolution or slowing progress
• User conflicts, balancing needs
• Scope of project and project creep
• Level of detail necessary
• Degree of explanation and justification needed for decisions
• Management plan lifespan (ie valid for 10 years? 20 years?)
• Plan implementation – funding and staffing
• Available resources ie. Capacity constraints with Planning and Design staffing levels – with many dozens of projects on yearly work plans the Division needs to be efficient with staff time and other resources
See the full proposal here.