Keep Grauer lands in a natural state
It was with mixed feelings that I read in The Richmond Review that the City of Richmond had purchased a swath of the West Dyke Trail between Blundell and Westminster Highway.
The announcement by Mayor Brodie raised enough alarm bells that I headed to the city website for more information. My initial happiness that the City and Richmond’s people have the opportunity to preserve this glorious piece of natural habitat forever was soon tempered by the following quote on the city website.
Quote: “The City of Richmond will manage the land as a public park to provide education and passive recreation opportunities that will complement the conservation purposes for which the land was purchased.”
Right now, standing on the dyke, this mile-long strip has unfettered trees, shrubs, and wetlands stretching towards the sea, and shrubs and trees back-stopped by the Q-Club Golf Course. This unique extent of open and green space has allowed wildlife to flourish practically undisturbed for thousands of years. Every day we see eagles, hawks, owls, singing birds, herons, snow geese, Canadian geese, ducks, coyotes, and smaller life (if one looks hard enough).
Unfortunately, much of what passes as “conservation” and “park management” these days consists of putting in picnic benches, washrooms, gaudily colored waste bins, unending signs, miles of gravel paths, information areas, visitors’ centres, car parks, and concession stands. Inevitably, this results in an influx of vehicles, people, chronic noise, pollution, “licensed” park events, rowdy parties with drinking, illegal burning of fossil materials, and lots of garbage.
We do not have to look further than Garry Point to see the end result of managing our pristine wild areas as public parks. This once exceptionally beautiful and natural headland has become a crowded over-used, over-managed “park” as evidenced by the very large car park, ugly gaudy garbage bins, too many trails, and more signs than trees.
So at this point in time, I ask that the City of Richmond writes a charter to protect this new gem. This charter will declare that preserving the habitat for our wonderful wildlife friends is the over-riding purpose of purchasing this land. A good first step would be to designate this new area, not as a public park, but as a wildlife sanctuary.
We have a heavy responsibility not to destroy it; every intervention has unexpected results; our best way forward in this case is to leave Nature to look after itself. The Grauer Family have done their part; our Mayor and Council should immediately announce a policy of non-intervention on the West Dyke Trail and Sturgeon Banks.