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Ditches, berm likely to stay at Island View

Jul 19 2012
Residents were concerned that the CRD would suggest removing Island View Beach's ditches and seawall, resulting in flooding and more mosquitoes. 

Residents were concerned that the CRD would suggest removing Island View Beach's ditches and seawall, resulting in flooding and more mosquitoes.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (June 2012)

The Capital Regional District will continue to protect Island View Beach from flooding and try to take the sting out of mosquitoes.

The CRD parks committee on Wednesday recommended that a seawall and drainage ditches continue to be maintained as part of a park management plan under development.

Several residents were concerned the CRD might suggest that both the ditches and a shoreline-protection berm be removed, resulting in flooding and more mosquitoes.

Central Saanich wrote the region urging it to clear and maintain all ditch infrastructure and to repair and maintain all berms, and the parks committee was presented with a 500-name petition supporting that position.

But not everyone was in support of the strategy.

CRD chairman Geoff Young said he had concerns about the plan's objective of protecting the park from saltwater intrusion and of adopting the principles of maintaining drainage ditches and continuing the mosquito abatement system.

"I think the idea that we want to maintain that land the way we are now, with annually renewing ditches, applying insecticide to the water and undertaking to keep the land safe and dry forever - it's just too soon to do that. And I'm worried it may be financially irresponsible," said Young, a Victoria councillor.

Young said it was wrong to think that Island View Beach would disappear under the waves if the ditches weren't maintained and the berm were allowed to deteriorate.

"We are talking about how we are treating and managing the coastal salt-marsh area behind the beach. I think we should be clear on that," Young said.

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt said berm maintenance and mosquito control were more properly handled locally, rather than by the CRD.

"Park users sit on the beach or walk their dogs on the path where there's a steady breeze. I believe there's no problem with mosquitoes for regional park users. This is an issue for residents who live in the vicinity," Isitt said.

"Central Saanich taxpayers don't help the City of Victoria to hold back the water along Dallas Road. We fund that through our own infrastructure program."

But Young and Isitt were in the minority. The committee recommended the following policy directions to the CRD board for approval:

Maintain the existing berm and examine the implications of extending the berm to the north;

- Maintain the existing drainage ditch system and monitor its effectiveness in reducing mosquito habitat and its effect on the coastal wetland ecosystem;

- Continue the mosquito abatement program and monitor its effectiveness;

- Examine possible actions to

protect and restore the coastal sand dune ecosystem; and

- Develop a trail through the

coastal wetland ecosystem.

Gwen Underwood, land manager for the Tsawout First Nation, said the Cordova Shore is an important area for her people for spiritual, cultural, medicinal and ecological reasons.

The Tsawout have been part of the Cordova Shore Conservation Partnership, working with the CRD and Central Saanich to improve management of the area.

She said the Cordova Shore contains a complex mix of important inter-tidal and sub-tidal marine areas; a rare sandspit dune ecosystem; eroding bluffs; coastal wetlands and rock outcrops - all of which have been degraded through past land practices.

"The Tsawout people are adamant that no further degradation of the ecological and cultural values occur," she said. bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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