The town of Colwood may soon be home to Parks Canada’s newest national park.
The community of West Shore is one of six cities vying for urban park development under Parks Canada’s new Urban Parks Program.
The initiative consists of creating park spaces in urban centers with an emphasis on providing natural environments for Canadians.
âWe were thrilled when the federal government approached us to start discussing this concept and that Colwood could be one of the first places in Canada to have an urban park,â Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said Monday.
“What we learned is that the federal government really wanted national parks to be accessible to residents so that they could come and explore them, rather than having to travel long distances,” he said. declared.
Parks Canada says $ 130.1 million in funding for the creation of urban parks will come from the $ 2.3 billion Canada Natural Heritage Fund, which was announced in the 2021 federal budget.
Parks Canada adds that nearly 72 percent of the country’s population lives in urban centers, where access to the benefits of nature and wildlife may be limited.
âOur staff have had preliminary discussions with Parks Canada to see if this would be feasible and if the Town of Colwood is interested (in the urban parks program),â said Martin. “Colwood has identified two major aspects as we build our community, one is about family and the other is nature and it fits those goals.”
Parks Canada is also considering sites for parks in five other cities. Colwood is vying for a share of the federal funding with Halifax, Montreal, Windsor, Winnipeg and Edmonton.
Martin says Parks Canada has not disclosed a potential location for Parks Canada’s urban park, but suspects it may be on a property adjacent to Fort Rodd Hill / Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.
âThe Department of National Defense (DND) owns land adjacent to Fort Rodd Hill and I expect a new national urban park will be incorporated into it,â he said.
According to the Parks Canada press release, the National Urban Parks Program will contribute to Canada’s commitment to protect biodiversity and conserve 25% of the country’s land, inland waters, marine and coastal areas by 2025.
Parks Canada says it will also work closely with Indigenous partners to ensure that national urban parks provide space for Indigenous stewardship. He says the parks program will promote Indigenous voices and stories and provide opportunities for land and water connections based on Indigenous knowledge and values.
âOne of the things we have achieved through COVID is that the home is important to everyone,â Martin said. “.
Martin says the pandemic has been particularly difficult for businesses in Greater Victoria. He says that adding an asset like a new national park could help strengthen the local tourism industry.
âAs you build more assets like a national park, more people will be inspired to come here,â he said. âA national urban park will help stimulate our economy and that’s one of the things we know we need to do here on southern Vancouver Island.
Martin says Parks Canada has not indicated when it will decide which city or cities will receive funding under the National Urban Parks Program. He says he expects the federal parks organization to announce his choice in fall 2021.