Mount Prevost park proposal gets approval in principle

The view from the top of Mount Prevost. -
The view from the top of Mount Prevost.
— image credit:

A proposed Mount Prevost park will offer parking, safety features, washrooms and better access to the peak’s war cairn

after council’s initial nod to the plan Wednesday.

But big strings to council’s approval in principle include community fundraising, legal permission, a renovation and maintenance budget, and much more before Prevost becomes a municipal park.

“Council’s aware of its tight budget situation,” Mayor Jon Lefebure said of the park pitched last year by Dave Darwin of the Duncan Daybreak Rotary Club and discussed Wednesday by council.

Seniors, students, challenged folks and others usually can’t access Prevost now.

“It’s not accessible for 99 per cent of people in the valley. Tourism Cowichan, stargazers and movie people would love this park,” Darwin said.

“Dave said he was keen to raise money to move the project ahead. Our parks and rec manager, Ernie Mansueti, saw this park as a medium priority,” Lefebure said.

“We hope Ernie can interest groups like Dave’s to raise the money,” the mayor said of about $150,000 in capital costs, plus some $40,000 in annual maintenance bills.

“We’ve made no commitment to include a budget item for this.”

Darwin said the next step is approaching valley service clubs, non-profit groups, and senior government for money or in-kind labour.

“We have to sit with North Cowichan and see where we need to go.”

There’s lots of staff work to be done on this too, Lefebure noted.

Jobs include establishing a lease arrangement with the landowner where the War Memorial Cairn is located.

But that land was owned by The Trustees of the Cowichan Mountain Memorial, dissolved in 1970.

Council believes that seven acres is now Crown land, and council will try and gain tenure of the site.

“This can take a year or more to process through the province and involves notification and First Nations’ consultation,” Mansueti’s report says.

If an application were successful, the province would likely require annual rent and insurance.

That deal could usher an enlarged parking lot, adding washrooms during peak seasons, and creating an ongoing maintenance program for trails and designated park areas.

Municipal and/or volunteer groups would also assess dangerous trees, inspect for nesting trees, write a sensitive environmental-area plan, erect signage, inspect rock-fall risks, build trails with rails, and construct an emergency helipad site.

Current vandalism and trashing of steep-cliff Prevost’s flora and fauna — partially from motorized-vehicle use — concerned Lefebure.

But he said Mansueti has stated a proper park might reduce destruction with more use by responsible folks.

Darwin agreed.

“How do you control an area if you can’t get to it? This would be better access for protection of the mountain, and for forest fires. The uses just multiply.”

Lefebure wants a safe, controlled park with little environmental impact.

“I love the natural trails without railings and where you don’t have to take any trees down. Somewhere there’s a good compromise.”

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