Trevor Bowles, a member of the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society, at the estuary. The society has received the results of its survey about whether or not to make part of the estuary a dedicated parkland. — Friends of French Creek Conservation Society photo

Locals support idea for new French Creek park

Survey was open to the public July 2-15

Results of a survey of Parksville Qualicum Beach residents show that 93 per cent support creating a park to protect the French Creek estuary.

The online survey, taken July 2-15, also shows that 74.5 per cent “strongly agree” with creating a park, according to a news release from the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society. Two per cent said they don’t want a park.

“I was blown away by the response to the survey,” said Trevor Bowles, project co-ordinator for the FFCCS, which sponsored the survey.

“We had almost 350 respondents; way more than we expected in the dead of summer.

“As well, I was really impressed by the comments people made. They clearly understand the issues and they certainly care about protecting the estuary.”

About 23 acres of land around the estuary is now the subject of development proposals on either side of French Creek, reads the release. The private owner of the land, French Creek Estates, has expressed an interest in protecting the estuary and is working with FFCCS to create a memorandum of understanding setting aside about 13 acres as a park, according to FFCCS.

“One thing that stood out in the comments is that ‘park’ means different things to different people,” said Bowles. “Some understood it to mean nature left alone to do its thing. Others envisioned picnic tables and a gazebo in a lovely setting.”

The focus of the FFCCS, Bowles said, is to establish legal protection for the estuary in perpetuity and then to begin re-creating a healthy habitat for spawning salmon and other wildlife.

The FFCCS is also working with other partners to create educational opportunities related to the science of rehabilitating estuaries.

“I was really pleased to see a high level of interest in the science and education aspects of the project especially from local educators interested in involving their students.

“Some 94 per cent of respondents said they’d use the park. People really seem to get it that this is a rare opportunity to create something wonderful for the community,” Bowles said.

Once a memorandum of understanding is signed, he said, the survey results will become part of a package used to approach funding and other partners.

For more information, see the Friends on Facebook and at ffccs.ca.

— Submitted by FFCCS

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