Central Saanich municipal hall (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

LETTER: Central Saanich mayor opposes parking fees at regional parks

A visit to a regional park is always an uplifting experience, and our parks role in our mental and physical health has become clearer to us during the past year than perhaps than ever before. Our incredible parks in the Capital Regional District (CRD) provide an opportunity to connect to nature and get exercise.

Importantly, this enjoyment can be found daily without the barrier of parking fees. Parking is currently free in most of our regional parks, with the exception of pay parking at Sooke Potholes and Thetis Lake during the summer season when tourists (who don’t pay taxes for park use) are amongst the visitors.

The CRD’s Parks Committee, which I do not sit on, began looking at new funding streams for parks in 2019, including potentially introducing parking fees. Residents already pay for our regional park system through a levy to the CRD.

In Central Saanich, the oldest regional park, Island View Regional Park, is mentioned in the Regional Parks Committee Report as a potential location for pay parking. As the parking lot is within Central Saanich’s road right-of-way, Central Saanich council has a considerable voice – at our Feb. 22 council meeting, all council members in attendance voted in opposition to paid parking at CRD regional parks. This will be my position at the CRD board table.

Yes, there are costs associated with maintaining our incredible parks, but parking fees are not necessarily the way to fund our parks, and stakeholder consultation is needed.

Ryan Windsor

Mayor of Central Saanich and CRD Director