Colwood may soon be home to a national park, thanks to a federal plan that contemplates possible sites in six cities across the country.
The federal government is allocating up to $ 130.9 million for this effort, with a focus on parks in urban centers.
The National Urban Parks Program takes into account statistics such as 72% of Canadians live in urban centers, where connection to nature and wildlife may be limited.
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said Parks Canada had asked for an indication that there had been a call among officials. Winnipeg, Halifax, Windsor, Edmonton and Montreal were also contacted.
âThe reason they did it was to make sure the municipality was on board, interested and supportive of the concept of an urban national park,â Martin said. âAnd we are thrilled with the concept and we will do whatever is necessary on our end to facilitate that. “
Martin said the idea is “a nice fit” to what’s going on at Colwood, where there has been a lot of development over the past three years and where the focus is now on balance.
âThe message through COVID has been so strong that your community is where you spend the majority of your time and therefore you don’t want to just see buildings,â Martin said.
âYou want to make sure that you are creating natural spaces for people.
âIt would be a game-changer for Colwood if we had a national urban park within our community. “
Currently, Colwood owns Fort Rodd Hill, a National Historic Site.
Martin said it’s interesting to look at what else a national urban park entails. âThe message that was very clear to me is that this is about active transportation and ensuring that we don’t build national parks where people have to get in their vehicles and travel a long distance to experience it. , whether it’s about creating an urban national park where people have the opportunity to cycle or walk or use other active modes of transportation to experience it.
Martin said the government recognizes the importance of consultation in establishing a park with a variety of stakeholders.
âI think before they went out and said we’re going to create an urban national park, they really wanted that engagement to happen first and then the elections were held,â he said.
He expects the process to resume after Election Day, September 20, and Colwood will have a better idea of ââwhat is happening in late September or early October.
Martin said that no specific site has been discovered so far and that he is unsure of the size of a park, but he believes that use will be made of federal lands in Colwood which are currently available.
âThere is significant land around Fort Rodd Hill which belongs to [the Department of National Defence], so that could be a location, âhe said. “I don’t think it would be Royal Roads because Royal Roads is part of the treaty settlement discussions.”
Martin said he expects a beach area to be included in the selected area.
Along with all of its other positive aspects, the park could bring economic benefits, he said.
âI believe this will be a powerful economic driver for us in the years to come,â said Martin.
“It won’t be the reason tourists come, but it will be another reason to come to lower Vancouver Island.”
Giving people an option in the outdoors is “a winning idea,” he said.
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