Letter: A lot of work to tell us the obvious about Taylor Park

One does not need to be a qualified environmental professional to recognize streams and wetlands

A lot of work to tell us the obvious about Taylor Park

My letter about Taylor Park that came out in the July 28, 2022 edition of the Citizen was actually submitted at the end of April and needs an update. Many citizens as well as the Shawnigan Basin Society and the Cowichan Valley Naturalists pointed out that since there are many streams and wetlands in this small five-acre park, it is not suitable for development of a large 100 vehicle plus bus parking lot connected by a very narrow panhandle to Renfrew Road. Even though Riparian Area Protection Regulations do not necessarily apply to parks, the CVRD’s Modernized Harmonized Official Community Plan does have as a policy objective to ‘protect and enhance natural assets’, where natural assets are described as forests and wetlands. One does not need to be a qualified environmental professional to recognize streams and wetlands. Despite this policy, the CVRD was determined to go ahead with studies on the feasibility of developing a large parking lot in this small jewel of a park.

What were these studies? Mr. Farquhar, back in February of this year, stated that a consultant who did a preliminary study stated there were no wetlands in the park. At the end of February Madrone Environmental Services Ltd. submitted a study commissioned by the CVRD. This was followed by a study by Aquaparian Environmental Consulting Ltd. who reported what many citizens have previously stated that there were too many streams and wetlands for the development of a large parking lot. At about the same time as the Aquaparian study, the CVRD commissioned a geotechnical study to determine the suitability of the park for the development of a large parking lot. This study was done by Cascara Consulting Engineers Ltd. who reported to Ryzuk Geotechnical Engineering and Materials Testing who reported to the CVRD. This study determined that geotechnically a large parking lot could be developed in Taylor Park; however, this study did not determine whether it was feasible to develop a connecting road through the narrow (12 metre wide) panhandle to Renfrew Road, this latter would have required yet another study.

Thus, we have three major studies plus a preliminary consultation that your tax dollars have paid for. My thoughts: 1) A policy objective of the modernized OCP was to protect wetlands and an ordinary citizen can recognize that a large portion of Taylor Park was wetland in nature; hence, no commissioned studies were required. 2) When Madrone was hired to develop a Pre-construction Feasibility Study – Taylor Park Upgrades report, why did this firm only recommend to hire a qualified environmental professional to determine the stream and wetland boundaries, and not use such a professional in their assessment? If this had been done, then the Aquaparian study would not have been necessary. 3) Why was the geotechnical study done at the same time as the Aquaparian study? The CVRD could have saved a lot of money if it had waited for Aquaparian’s report since the conclusions of this study voided the need for the geotechnical study.

I estimate that the three larger studies likely cost in the neighbourhood of $30,000 plus the cost of the preliminary consultant. I think our tax dollars could have been put to much better use.

Bernhard H.J. Juurlink

Mill Bay