Despite my predictions to the contrary, UVic Grounds moved in last night, went to town with their heavy machinery before putting up a beautiful fence. Ball’s in the guerrilla gardeners court now.
What exactly do they want? The first and most logical demand is for new community garden space, preferably smack in the middle of campus. They also want a giant educational farm, 15 acres be exact. Their suggested location: Cedar Hill X Rd. lands. Given the lands were once a farm and still have fruit trees, these ideas seem fairly reasonable so far.
Still in the reasonable category is the idea of more fruit trees on campus, to take advantage of Victoria’s Mediterranean-like climate. It is their time-frame and scale I quibble with: 500 trees in five years. Trees take a decade or more to mature. Simpler would be to change (or subvert, depending on your worldview) UVic’s natural tree replacement and addition programs. The only work needed now revising whatever plan already exists.
And now we get to the insane. A department of agriculture? With 6 full time faculty? Aside from the small matter that UVic seriously lacks office and classroom space for its existing courses — let alone a brand new department — where is the money going to come from? What are they going to teach? And more cynically, what kind of monetization is possible? So I say: get thyself to UBC. They are BC’s agriculture specialists. Have been for a long time. No need to duplicate that.
The rest are a wash. Ten acres of ethnobotanical gardens? A LEED certified building? A food harvest festival? Interesting and not impossible.
Surprisingly, the garden in question is still in existence as of today. Like the rabbit problem, I suspect the university will wait for the summer to deal with it. Less students to chain themselves to bulldozers/live-traps that way.
If all this digging has prompted one good thing, it is that students are talking about community gardens, most of them for the first time. Whether or not that is a good thing is a matter of debate, like I had with a fellow student yesterday. Maybe something will come of this. After all, the reasonable community gardens group can play good cop: “Well, you could be dealing with them…”
Between ATVs and the Colwood Council, CRD has found its parks under a great deal of strain recently. The local ATV groups have started a drive to allow ATV access to the regions parks. Then Turner Lane Development Corp., the developer of the mostly-dead Colwood CornersCity Centre Colwood, has managed to get the Colwood Council to sign off on a hare-brained scheme to re-route the Galloping Goose and use its right of way for a road.
First, the ATVs. Loud, polluting, and ecologically destructive, these little beasts have their supporters. So much so that the local advocates have managed to get access into the local consciousness. The mere idea that ATVs could get access to local parks seemed completely off the radar until very recently — even CRD Parks own FAQ doesn’t even mention motorized access — and the ATVers have run a very slick campaign, catching most of the environmental groups and like-minded people off-guard.
However, I seriously doubt that ATV access, even if granted, will last for very long. If they are lucky, they will get agreements like South Island Mountain Bike Society (SIMBS) have with CRD over mountain-bike access to Hartland. Those agreements have some pretty strict termination clauses (see this access approval over a technical training area) and I know SIMBS has run into issues in the past. The major problem that the ATVers have is that the damage a mountain-bike can do to sensitive terrain is nothing compared to what even a single ATV can accomplish (an object example of this). So even one or two yahoos will quickly bring the ATV crowd into conflict with the CRD.
The other lunacy running around is the idea to re-route the Galloping Goose alongside the Old Island Highway and use the Goose’s right of way for a north-bound road. This one also appeared from nowhere and even managed to get the Colwood Council to sign on to the idea, unanimously no less. I can confidently predict this will fail. The last time a developer attempted to get the Goose turned into a road, an extension of Harbour Road for the Railyards in 2002, it was killed. Eight years down the road, there are only more bicyclists, walkers and other users of the Galloping Goose so getting people out to oppose this should be easy.
Thankfully both of these ideas require CRD Board approval. The next board meeting is April 21st at 9:30am in the CRD Boardroom at 625 Fisgard. If you want to speak, you will need to get prior approval. I will be Hawaii running up my carbon debt so I won’t see you there!