Maplehurst Park is located in Cherry Creek in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. (ACRD PHOTO)

Maplehurst Park is located in Cherry Creek in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. (ACRD PHOTO)

Residents protest potential parking lot at Maplehurst Park near Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to hold open house May 18

Residents of Willow Road will be turning out in force on Wednesday, May 18 to oppose the Alberni-Clayquot Regional District’s vision for Maplehurst Park.

The ACRD has scheduled an open house this Wednesday to discuss the future of the park, whose unofficial trail head begins at the end of the Willow Road cul-de-sac.

Earlier this year, the ACRD gathered public input on a vision and priorities for Maplehurst Park through an online survey. Residents are now being invited to an open house to view the survey results and comment on options and draft recommendations for a park plan. The open house takes place on Wednesday, May 18 from 4-7 p.m. at the Cherry Creek Community Hall (3720 Moore Road).

Sherry Harrison has lived on Willow Road for 30 years, and said tentative plans for a parking lot at the end of Willow will interfere with two salmon tributaries. She said there is surveyors’ tape “all over” the Maplehurst trail near Willow Road.

The popularity of the trail has grown exponentially since it was included on the national website www.alltrails.com, according to Harrison. “We have people come from all over Canada. We have people wandering in our yards,” and last summer she rescued an older couple that became lost inside the park, driving them back to where they had left their vehicle.

There are approximately 15 homes on Willow, and Harrison said most residents are planning on attending Wednesday’s open house to voice their opposition to any plan that includes building a parking lot in their neighbourhood.

“We don’t want a circus on Willow Road,” Harrison said.

“The open house is a chance to discuss priorities for park access development, parking, signage and future park amenities,” said Dianne Bodnar, Cherry Creek director with the ACRD.

Bodnar is encouraging Cherry Creek residents to come out and have their say, because Maplehurst Park is funded by Cherry Creek Electoral Area residents.

READ: Alberni Valley rallies in support of Maplehurst trail network

One of the issues the open house will explore is how to improve access to the park from Cherry Creek Electoral Area, according to Bodnar. Another question to be explored is connectivity of the park to other greenspaces.

The online survey gathered 251 responses from residents from across the region. The public input received through both the survey and the May 18 public open house will guide the development of a park management plan for Maplehurst Park. The plan will outline a vision for the park, and summarize the park’s cultural, natural and recreation values. It is an opportunity to identify management gaps and set out goals for the short, medium, and long-term protection of the park’s natural environment and the development of park amenities such as signage, trails, picnic areas, trail heads and parking.

For more information about the park planning process, residents can visit the project webpage at www.letsconnectacrd.ca/maplehurst-pmp.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District