Input sought on area parks plan

The Area C Parks Plan will be updated this year as the previous plan is now 10 years old

The Area C Parks Plan will be updated this year as the previous plan is now 10 years old, and has largely been implemented. Development of the new plan will include obtaining substantial public input as there will be numerous door-to-door interviews conducted with Area C residents and visitors by students from Thompson Rivers University, under the direction of a faculty member and an external consultant.

Parks is one of the most significant expenditures made in Area C by the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District, with about $600,000 allocated in the 2014 budget. This expenditure funds an impressive public resource for Area C residents with more than 82 hectares designated as park.

There are 26 parks in Area C including 11 waterfront parks, a mountain bike park at White Lake and a water spray park in Sorrento.

The CSRD also partners with the Shuswap Trail Alliance to build and operate a number of trails in Area C open for hiking, biking and horseback riding. In the South Shuswap there are 21 trails which total more than 160 kilometers in length. In the Skimikin and Blind Bay/White Lake areas more than 70 km of these trails are equestrian-friendly; more than 40 km are mountain bike-friendly including the outstanding John Evdokimoff mountain bike park.

Cyclists can also enjoy 276 km of cycling in Area C as outlined in the excellent Shuswap Cycling Guide put out by Shuswap Tourism.

The purpose of the new parks plan evaluation for Area C includes:

• Updating the inventory of recreational assets in our area

• Identifying current use of recreational sites and infrastructure in the region

• Providing guidance for identification and prioritization of recreation opportunities such that these provide residents with adequate access to recreation opportunities and encourages their participation into the future.

This planning process will provide the Area C Parks Commission and CSRD Parks staff with a needs assessment of recreation in Area C, an update to the Parks Plan in the context of recreational use and opportunities, and findings that will help guide priorities in the years to come.

The plan is to conduct door-to-door interviews with a statistically significant sample of the 3,400 households in Area C this summer.

I strongly encourage all residents and visitors of Area C to actively participate in the process, and to provide us with your opinions and suggestions about how we can best upgrade and manage this critical resource. Please take a few minutes to discuss your thoughts when you see the TRU student at your door.

On behalf of the residents in the Eagle Bay area, I would like take this opportunity to thank the parks staff at the CSRD for the excellent improvements made at Whitehead Road, Gail Road and Shannon Beach parks.

If you would like to suggest topics for future articles, or participate in our community advisory panel surveys, please contact me at pdemenok@csrd.bc.ca.

-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District