The people behind a petition that called on the Town of Gibsons to abandon plans to build an affordable housing project on the Charman Creek Lands were back in front of councillors July 9 asking that the land be preserved as a park.
The property, in an area between the foot of Shaw Road in Upper Gibsons and Stewart Road in Lower Gibsons, is no longer the proposed site for the housing project, which is now slated for the Town-owned lot beside the Christenson Village long-term care facility.
The Town is putting a covenant on the area along the Charman Creek ravine and the Inglis Trail.
In a presentation to the planning and development committee, Sharon Danroth said the petition has continued to grow from the 200 signatures collected last fall, and so has the desire to see the entire lot preserved.
“This small, contiguous forest needs to be saved… it is the only one we can save. All the rest are privately owned, and after losing Gospel Rock, we realized we haven’t the money or the will to buy private land or forest,” Danroth told the committee. “Make this forest a park – a park we can all share and be proud of.”
Several councillors on the committee supported the idea.
“You’ve preached to the choir here,” said Councillor David Croal. “I’ve sent several emails to both mayor and our CAO recommending that area be declared part of a national project called the National Healing Forests Project… Part of a national movement that ties in with reconciliation.”
“I’m fully supportive, and I like what councillor Croal brought up about the Healing Forest,” said Councillor Annemarie De Andrade, who worked on environmental and planning issues in Stanley Park earlier in her career.
Committee chair, councillor Aleria Ladwig, also signaled support for preserving the lot as a park. “I feel like we’re all on the same page on this issue.”
An assessment of the Charman Creek Lands under the Town’s eco-asset strategy that began when part of the property was being considered as the site for the affordable housing project is still being completed. That assessment could determine which parts of the forest act as critical storm water infrastructure.
CAO Emanuel Machado said council could proceed with a park or similar designation without waiting for that assessment to be completed, and the land’s value as an eco-asset could also include public health or cultural benefits.