Despite some opposition from residents in the area, the Regional District of Nanaimo will proceed with a plan to build a natural play space at Stone Lake Drive Community Park.
Staff recommended the location to the Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC). The project was requested by Nanoose Bay residents after the playground infrastructure at the park was dismantled in 2017 due to safety issues.
Last June, POSAC received a petition signed by 32 residents who expressed concerns and opposition to the project. They want the natural community park at Stone Lake Drive to “remain in its state without the trees, shrubs, and other natural growth removed to construct a playground.” They want the regional district to build it at Claudet Road Community Park instead.
“The notion that the district could somehow make this precious area more ‘natural’ strikes me as bizarre,” said Dave Dowling in his letter to Area E director Bob Rogers. “A lot of money, machines and effort would be expended to destroy the habitat of many creatures and birds, upset the ecological balance of the ponds, and result in some man-made ‘natural feature’ which would look manicured, sterile, and have none of the attraction and mystery of what is already there. The very few children who live in this area would, I am sure, ignore it.
“If your goal is to provide inviting natural spaces for families and children to explore, you have already achieved it, brilliantly: the Stone Lakes are a beautiful blend of nature and walkways. I urge your planning group to leave well enough alone.”
Staff visited and evaluated both Stone Lake Drive and Claudet Road community parks. They looked at the pros and cons of each location and recommended the latter.
Stone Lake Drive is closer to more families and residences, easily walked or biked to, and all natural materials fits the theme of the existing trails and park. It also offers the opportunity to integrate natural elements along existing trails and it is visible from the road. But it has no room to expand and may need to integrate drainage or build up the play space area if ground is wet in the winter.
The Claudet Road location has more space available, suitable for larger playground and could be combined with other amenities, has toilet, parking amenities in place and a dog park could also be possible there. However, it is not easily walked to and visitors would need to drive to reach it. A park master plan has to be developed first which would lengthen timeline substantially. It is also generally wet in the park and would require further investigation. Vegetation clearing would also be greater.
Staff has advised POSAC that the creation of concept plans for the natural play space proceed with the assistance of the focus group.
The project’s estimated cost is $45,000 and would be funded through the Community Works Fund. Additional costs would come from garbage service and occasional maintenance and repairs estimated to be $1,300 and $500 annually respectively.