Taylor Park will not be developed into a 100-vehicle parking lot that was intended to increase public access to the historic Kinsol Trestle and Cowichan Valley Trail.
The board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District made that decision at its meeting on July 27 after receiving an assessment of the site, an approximately five-acre undeveloped property just off Renfrew Road near Shawnigan Lake, from Aquaparian Environmental Consulting Ltd.
The consulting company concluded that the site includes environmentally sensitive wetlands, and the area that is developable within the park is too small for the planned parking lot.
The board agreed that another site for the controversial parking lot will be sought, and the search for that location will begin soon.
Shawn Taylor, who donated much of the property to the CVRD in 2004 as part of a rezoning application he had submitted to the district for his property, raised concerns when the CVRD first proposed the parking lot at the site in March.
He said at the time that he agreed to hand over the property to the district as a community amenity contribution that was part of a rezoning application with the understanding that it would remain a natural park, which is called Taylor Park after him, due to the environmentally sensitive ecological wetlands in the area.
Mike Wilson, the CVRD’s director for Cobble Hill, said at the meeting on July 27 that the Taylor family has been through considerable stress, both psychologically and financially, over the issue.
He asked that the CVRD ensure the Taylor family and residents of the district that no further plans to encroach on the property will happen again, and said he will prepare a director’s report on the issue that will be presented at a future meeting.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport had agreed to supply the CVRD with a $459,000 grant towards the parking lot project at Taylor Park, and Megan Walker, the district’s parks and trails planner, said the CVRD will ask the ministry if the funding could be used for another project in the region.
She said the proposed project for the funding would be the Cowichan Valley Trail’s North Watts Road parking lot and roadside trail connection project near Chemainus, which includes the construction of a 31-vehicle gravel parking area.