RE: “In defence of Huxley Park” ad in April 3 Sounder

Wednesday, April 10 2019

Sam Betts’ paid advertisement in last week’s Sounder got me thinking. 

Firstly, just for clarification purposes, the lot coverage for any property - including parks - is not contained in the Official Community Plan (OCP).

It is within the Land Use Bylaw (LUB). But that is not what had me pouring through our OCP, LUB and Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) variance application. 

What I am considering, after doing a small amount of research, is this: why did the LTC of the time put a 20 per cent lot coverage cap on active parks? 

In particular, why did the Local Trust Committee of the time put a 20 per cent cap on Huxley Park, a park that at the time of rezoning already had 24.1 per cent lot coverage? (The playground addition put that coverage up to 24.3 per cent.) 

This seems like an oversight; one that likely was not intentional. 

Active parks are meant for recreation, they are the parks that should house recreation facilities. Our current OCP states that “the development of additional Community Field space in close proximity to the Village Center or existing Playing Fields should be encouraged.” 

The skatepark, in my opinion, most certainly can fall into the category of community field space. 

This park will add 782.32 m2 to the recreational structures existing on this property. 

To put this in perspective, that is 2/3 the size of the existing tennis court. 

The skatepark is not a huge installation, but it is something that has been promised to the youth of Gabriola for 20+ years. 

There really is no better location than Huxley Park for the skatepark. 

Skateparks need to be central, they need to be close to the school, they need to be visible and they need to be for the community. Huxley Park is the only location that ticks all those boxes. 

I am in favour of the variance requested by the RDN in regards to lot coverage and boundary setback. 

I also would encourage the LTC to take a look at the lot coverage limit for Huxley Park. Since it is centrally located it would make sense for this to be the park with a greater allowance for lot coverage.

~ Carly McMahon