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City releases update on Parksville Wetlands Trail development

Crews currently completing a loop trail
A map depicting looped trail networks in the Parksville Wetlands. (Submitted photo)

A Parksville city crew has completed almost three kilometres of five-metre-wide emergency/maintenance/accessible trails in the Parksville Wetlands, in less than six months.

A release issued on Feb. 24 noted development of a trail system within the wetlands is a priority. As climate change makes summers drier, it is critical the city provides suitable access in the Parksville Wetlands and surrounding areas for maintenance, emergency access and safe egress for ambulance and fire protection.

It is also important to provide formal access for users of all ages and abilities to enjoy the city’s parks.

During the past two summers, the wetlands area has experienced a grass fire of approximately 700 square metres, as well as a fire that burned a section of the wetlands in a more treed area. Without safe emergency access, the potential for loss within the wetlands and the risk to nearby residential areas is very high.

READ MORE: Parksville Wetlands trail development ready for next phase in early 2022

City staff are now able to safely access a section of the park south of the railway, that contains almost 200 dead standing trees, to mitigate the hazards and remove dead wood based on the city’s Urban Forest Strategy.

Currently, crews are completing a loop on the north side of the railway line through the wetlands, connecting the Hirst Avenue and Renz Road corner to the end of Despard Avenue. This will complete a 2.3-kilometre loop trail within this side of the wetlands.

By combining techniques developed at the Municipal Insurance Agency of British Columbia along with the Whistler trail standards created by the Regional Municipality of Whistler, staff constructed a double track trail at a five-metre width. Lesser trails developed off this double track trail will reduce to two metres in width and are for pedestrian use only.

According to the release, the response to the work in the wetlands has been positive; the bright limestone capped areas help the visually impaired and the new parking areas on Coldwater Road provide mobility access. Culverts were installed at regular intervals to help equalize the water throughout the park and there is now a solid, dry base for walking. Sightlines are more open providing good visibility and improved comfort if walking alone.

Those using the park are asked to respect signage that advises of any trail closures or urban forest restoration areas. They are also asked to respect the natural wildlife and plants in the park, and to always keep dogs leashed and on the trails.

- NEWS Staff, submitted

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