A campaign is underway that could see a new municipal park in Maple Bay.
The Maple Bay Community Association is leading the charge that would see an approximately six-acre park designated on the lots from the old fire hall on Herd Road in the community.
The properties are mostly owned by the Municipality of North Cowichan and currently serve as a children’s playground, tennis courts, pickleball courts, and an off-leash dog park.
The dog park is bounded by an unused roadway and property below a hilly trail to Manley Street, which is covered with firs, maples and a few arbutus trees, and this property has been donated to North Cowichan for use as a park by Jim Shockey, from the adjacent Hand of Man Museum, which is located in the old Maple Bay Elementary School.
Donna Wakefield, a member of the MBCA, said the association is proposing that North Cowichan’s council consolidate all the properties and the unused roadways which border them into one park parcel for the present and future park use of the residents of the community.
The MBCA has even proposed a name for the new park: Upper Maple Bay Village Park.
“This would preserve this rare piece of land, with both flat areas and treed slopes, for all future enjoyment,” Wakefield said.
“Maple Bay’s Canada Day parade already musters on the dog park each year, and the other properties are all heavily used as well.”
Wakefield said the properties are currently zoned for public use, but the zoning could easily be changed by North Cowichan’s council to allow development of the properties.
She said park designation would make the properties virtually safe from any attempts to develop them.
“Altogether, the properties consist of several acres right in the heart of Maple Bay,” Wakefield said.
“Maple Bay has several recreation areas, but is not over-supplied with parks. The association has already spent its own time and money making signs welcoming people to the area and have put up a back wall in the tennis court for players to practice. We hope North Cowichan will consider our proposal to designate these properties as a park, and we hope the community comes on board to support us with our efforts.”
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said consolidating all the properties into one park has been discussed by the municipality in the past, but has yet to be formally considered by council.
“There’s a bunch of lots there, so it’s a bit complicated to consolidate them all into one parcel,” he said.
“I can’t predict whether council has the appetite to move forward on it, but if we did, it would basically recognize what we’ve been doing there for many years. I know the request is in process in North Cowichan and I expect it will come before council within the next month or so.”