Saanich Parks and Recreation recently distributed a flyer to households qualifying as Friends and Neighbours of Haro Woods.
These woods have been benignly neglected for many years, during which time those who walk through them to Cadboro Bay use the trail system along the south-western side, which emerges opposite the Hobbs Elementary field, and via this to the village.
A shorter section of trails along the north-eastern side was generally territory for kids who built an ingenious bike-trail along it, complete with jumps. This division of the woods seemed to work fine, and nobody got in anybody else’s way.
No doubt the kids who used the woods ignored invitations to open houses, but it was apparent to all woods-users that they existed, and also where their priorities might lie.
However, the flyer tells readers, “Deciding how best to deal with off-trail biking was the most difficult aspect of the plan. Options to accommodate it were explored during public consultations, but support was insufficient and these activities are not permitted in the park.”
One wonders whether an attempt was made to find out who the bikers were and what their views were on the subject. It wouldn’t have been hard to do. And to allow a section of the woods to be used for this purpose – with Parks and Rec’s blessing and assistance – is the right thing to do (why else would they have explored options to accommodate it?).
Instead, we get a pronouncement about the undesirable spin-offs of user-made bike trails, including they help invasive plants become established, ignoring the fact that for decades ivy has been allowed to displace the natural salal throughout the woods.
Parks and Rec should be ashamed of themselves – it’s time to go back to the drawing board. And this time, please talk to the young bike enthusiasts.