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Saanich celebrates 20 years as stewards of Mount Doug

Graham Shorthill, founding member of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, stands with the new charter rock unveiled at the park entrance Thursday morning during a ceremony to mark 20 years since formation of the society and Saanich took ownership of the park. - Natalie North/News staff
Graham Shorthill, founding member of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, stands with the new charter rock unveiled at the park entrance Thursday morning during a ceremony to mark 20 years since formation of the society and Saanich took ownership of the park.
— image credit: Natalie North/News staff

Twenty years ago Saanich took over ownership of Mount Douglas park and held a ceremony at the summit, revealing the park charter.

On Thursday, the district unveiled a second version of the constitution engraved on a towering rock at the park’s main entrance – part of a two-pronged approach to celebrate the park’s past and enhance its future.

Members of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society and representatives from Saanich gathered at the base of Churchill Road to recognize the success of closing the road for pedestrians until noon daily – by installing distance and elevation markers – and improving the road entrance by adding more park-like features.

The oversized charter and elevation markers now being installed are a part of the first of three thresholds intended to calm traffic on Churchill Road and add to the park atmosphere.

A new gate and a large cedar framed kiosk, including a boardwalk over Douglas Creek are planned in the next phase of enhancements for installation in the spring of 2013. Traffic calming “rumble strips” to address traffic exiting Shelbourne are also a part of the plan.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said the district is proud of the relationship they have with the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society.

“We’re really fortunate to have those kind of community advocates working with us and to mark the occasion,” Leonard said. “The word improvement is almost inappropriate because it’s actually about preservation. The biggest thing we’ve done is acquire the land down the slopes so that it’s not a crew cut park. That it’s a park that goes right down the slope of Mount Doug and now little Mount Doug. For the taxpayers, that’s been their contribution.”

Graham Shorthill, founding member of roughly 180-person society, measures the success of the morning Churchill Road closure by the number of walkers he meets from across the Capital Region, as well as international travellers who made a point of visiting the 188-hectare park.

“We’re always in preservation mode and any opportunity to expand the park, we take,” Shorthill said. “That’s our fundamental job: to make sure it’s in the public eye and that people value it. TThe best defence of the park is citizens getting in and using it and really showing them the value.”

Improving salmon habitat, and the trail system in an effort to get walkers off the road and into the park are the two other prime priorities, he added.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

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