Yoga in the park stalls

Organizer didn't receive permission from Oak Bay parks commission to stage lessons in Willows Park

An attempt to introduce free yoga at Willows Park has been anything but a walk in the park for organizers.

Free yoga classes, mentioned in an article printed in the News on June 22, will not be held this summer, as the organizer does not have permission from the Oak Bay parks and recreation commission to do so.

The parks bylaw states that no person shall give private instruction, operate a recreational program, or operate, stage, or present a tournament on or in any park, or in any indoor or outdoor municipal recreation facilities, except with the written permission of the commission.

The bylaw ensures there isn’t an overflow of people using one space at the same time, according to Janet Barclay, manager of recreation program services.

Co-ordination and permission is needed for such activities, she said.

“If you informally gather a group (at the park), you may show up there and find a group that actually does have a permit to have an activity on the park.”

The proper process to get an activity approved involves approaching the commission with an idea, discussing it at the commission’s monthly meeting, and then waiting for approval, according to Ray Herman, director of parks and recreation.

Any questions the commission has would be asked during the meeting, he said, and pros and cons would be discussed before a decision is made.

Pete Rose, who organized the yoga sessions, said he approached Herman with the idea in April but was denied because he initially suggested the yoga classes be by donation.

Rose was advised, at the time, that his idea may not be supported by commission staff, Herman said.

“From a staff perspective, we wouldn’t support what he was proposing at that time, which was different than what he’s proposing now,” Herman said.

“Even if I wanted to, I don’t have the authority to grant him approval to conduct that activity in the park. That has to come forward in the commission.”

Herman then suggested Rose bring his idea forward to the commission, Herman said. However, that did not happen.

“I left it with him, in his hands,” Herman said.

Rose said he was told by Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney, who is commission liaison, that he could move forward with his proposal if he provided the activity for free.

But now, Rose is “backing off” and waiting for the next commission meeting in September to try again.

However, an informal gathering of yogis may be found at the beach in coming weeks.

“I’m personally backing off. But there’s (yoga) teachers who said they will be going down there (to Willows Beach) and doing it,” Rose said.


“It’s gone from a formal movement to an informal movement.”