Maplehurst Trail has become so popular the traffic is a problem for residents of Willow Road in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Maplehurst Trail has become so popular the traffic is a problem for residents of Willow Road in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

EDITORIAL: Public has say in park planning

People in the Alberni Valley love their parks and trails, and they’re not afraid to vocalize it…

People in the Alberni Valley love their parks and trails, and they’re not afraid to vocalize it.

This has been most evident lately, as public groups or neighbours have banded together to advocate for areas such as Sproat Lake forest trails, the Burde Street Beaver Ponds and Maplehurst Trails.

A common refrain by some of these people is that they were unaware plans were being made to modify or develop their favourite outdoor spots, and they don’t feel they have had a voice in these potential changes.

In the case of the Burde Street Beaver Ponds, private land surrounding the ponds and abutting a portion of the public Log Train Trail has been purchased by a development company, which has proposed a large housing community. Changes to Maplehurst Trails, on the other hand, are under consideration in a new park management plan.

We elect our municipal governments to advocate on our behalf. In a sense we “hire” our city council or ACRD board through elections, which will be happening in October 2022. That doesn’t mean we no longer have a say in decisions that are being made.

Municipal governments have processes and structures in place to ensure public debate on relevant issues. These may take the form of advertisements in local media, online surveys, public hearings, and regular meetings. Residents can send in written opinions on issues, and many municipal government members are receptive to one-on-one communication.

As an electorate we also have a responsibility to educate ourselves about our own environment—whether that is the city, our neighbourhood or what is happening with our favourite park trails. This includes learning how we may interact with municipal government in order to share our opinion in a meaningful, impactful— and official—way.

— Alberni Valley News

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictTrails