News

Walk the Planets in Oak Bay

Bill Smith waves at Saturn from Cattle Point, a concept he hopes tourists will pick up on year-round when visiting Cattle Point Urban Star Park during the Oak Bay Walk of Planets.  - Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff
Bill Smith waves at Saturn from Cattle Point, a concept he hopes tourists will pick up on year-round when visiting Cattle Point Urban Star Park during the Oak Bay Walk of Planets.
— image credit: Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff

Bill Smith sees Oak Bay as a solar system of sorts with the centre of things at Cattle Point.

Home of the Cattle Point Urban Star Park, he hopes to develop a trail to create something for visitors to see and learn when they come to the star park during daylight hours.

“Telling a story though a walk,” he said, seated seaside under the sun itself on a hot summer day.

He was inspired in Passau, a community the size of Oak Bay in Germany, when he and his wife Elizabeth came across a sphere that they soon realized represented the sun. Further along they found a second, representing a planet. It was precisely what Bill had already envisioned for Oak Bay.

“Over the week it became really clear to me this would be a good idea,” he said.

“We should make Cattle Point, because it’s so special, where the sun is.”

He was motivated by the amount of information and encouragement offered by the folks in Passau. So far, he’s developed the Oak Bay Walk of Planets online with only geographical points of interest.

Following a distance formula to keep the planet distances to scale, the first world from the sun would be Mercury at Willows Beach. Venus is situated at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Mars fits nicely at Walbran Park to fulfill an “inner planets” tour.

“My idea is people can take a walk in an hour or two and end up back in the village,” Smith explained.

For those looking for a larger tour of the planets, perhaps on bike, trails connect the entire solar system.

Next would be Jupiter at Fort Rodd Hill via Galloping Goose followed by Saturn at the Sooke Potholes. For the distant traveller Uranus would be China Beach and Neptune near the end of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail at Port Refrew, ending with Pluto at the end of the West Coast Trail in Bamfield.

“We’re building another connection … put an umbrella around what we already have,” he said.

The next step, pending funding and approvals, would be to install cairns or other physical markers along the way.

“There’s lots of places where you could put a sun, without offending anyone,” he said of the first project he hopes to get underway over the next year. The project with installations would cost about $50,000 he figures, about $5,000 each.

Visit cattlepointstarpark.org online for more detail and maps of the Oak Bay Walk of Planets.

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