Committee recommends next steps for Seymour Bay Park
At the special council meeting on Monday, March 11, Keith Wahlstrom, the municipality’s manager of development and operations, presented the findings of the Parks, Trails and Greenways Advisory Committee and its recommendations for park design elements for Seymour Bay Park.
“The committee was given the task of looking at what we should put into Seymour Bay Park after the storm drainage was installed,” Wahlstrom said.
Wahlstrom said that committee members did a great job envisioning what the park could be over the long term and what elements could be used to enhance it. “It was never the requirement of the developer to determine what [the park elements] should be,” he said.
The committee’s report clarifies Seymour Bay Park’s designation as a passive park, explaining that “the emphasis in passive parks is on accommodating users and providing a variety of activities. They are multi-purpose sites often used for three to eight hours per day by residents accessing the site by bike, trail, ocean or private vehicles. Less emphasis is placed on retention of natural vegetation and more on use by visitors.” The committee also found that passive parks may typically include open areas for picnics with picnic sites with tables, firepits and sometimes shelters, playscapes for children, trails, on-site washroom facilities and on-site parking for a small number of vehicles. “A passive park situated by the ocean would also seek to provide visitors with views to the water. The perspective of visitors approaching the park by kayak or boat must also be considered,” the report says about passive parks.
Specifically for Seymour Bay Park, the committee recommended that all existing trees and native vegetation should be retained and that all plantings should be with native plants appropriate for the site. For trails and access to the water, “a new gentle pathway from the existing road down to the beach on the north side of the rocky outcrop” and “two sets of dry-stacked rock steps or ramps (using materials that will be unaffected by wave action) down to the beach” are recommended.
The committee also envisions developing the old road into an easy-access picnic area with tables and view seating and suggests to “daylight the stream where it currently flows through a culvert under the old road, by replacing the culvert with a bridge.” Other suggestions include covering the lower rip rap overflow sections of the drainage with additional soil and vegetation and changing the grading of the open drainage to create a cascading effect with a series of pools to mimic a more natural stream.
The committee further suggested to investigate the possibility of having parking outside of the park boundaries since the park is small and to provide a public washroom. For the full report, please see: bimbc.ca/files/embedded2010/130311SpC9-3a.
Wahlstrom suggested that council accepts the recommendations of the committee in general and includes them in the 2013 budget. “The committee recommends that we hire a landscape architect to make sure we get a good design. From that design, we can move forward as the budget permits,” he said, adding that the requirement from the developer is to “put in some plantings once it is determined what that should look like.”
Wahlstrom explained that normally a developer would be asked to provide parkland as part of a development plan but it’s up to the municipality to decide what the park should look like. “The municipality programs and decides which elements are desirable,” Wahlstrom said. “In this case, the developer did put a drainage channel through the parkland. Moving forward, we need to determine how to restore the park and have a plan in place.”
Councillor Cro Lucas suggested to include the Trails, Parks and Greenways Advisory Committee in the development stage in the future to avoid situations where parks potentially become a cost liability to the municipality. Wahlstrom said, “Eventually, we should be looking at the parks, trails and greenways master plan to see where we want to have parks, what they should look like and what the park elements should be.”
Mayor Jack Adelaar had concerns about one of the recommendations of the committee suggested planting site appropriate trees on the upper slopes of the park to create a screen from future buildings above. “Part of the appeal of the golf course is coming down the green and seeing the water,” he said, adding that he would like to see that view preserved. And Lucas added that the Bowen Island Golf Course is a designated night time landing area and access point for emergency services that places restrictions on tree cover.
Wahlstrom recommended to get a plan in place “so that Bowen Island Properties can go ahead with replacing the plantings.”