Members of two Chilliwack community groups are pointing to a lack of new trails, and green spaces in the proposed Sardis Neighbourhood Plan.
Council is slated to give introduction and first reading to the draft Sardis Neighbourhood Plan, with proposed zoning changes and amendments to the Official Community Plan at the Nov. 17 meeting.
A public hearing set for Dec. 1 will be the last chance for public input into the Sardis plan, on the heels of several engagement opportunities.
Chrystal Gillingham, a director of the Chilliwack Park Society, called the Sardis plan “shortsighted.”
“We (at the park society) think Chilliwack could create some truly valuable trail corridors while encompassing riparian areas which need to be protected from future development and misguided ‘improvements’ by landowners.”
The city’s survey in September asked what makes a healthy community:
• 78% – Creating green spaces for all ages
• 63% – Protecting environmentally sensitive areas
When asked for investment priorities to ensure Sardis remains a great place to live, the top two responses were:
• 66% – Green spaces and trail corridors
• 46% – Natural area protection
“Despite this clear mandate from the public, the draft form of the Sardis Neighbourhood Plan contains no set goals for new parks, trails and protected areas other than a promise of two new city parks of undetermined size and location and ‘green corridors’ that are merely quiet streets suitable for riding your bike on,” Gillingham wrote in a letter to mayor and council about the Sardis plan.
The plan should make it clear the city is dedicated to creating these spaces.
“Potential exists for creating trail loops and habitat corridors along many of our other waterways but, again, there are no new designated trails or protected areas indicated on the map at all,” Gillingham wrote. “Protecting the ecosystems and habitat required to safeguard the future of species such as salmon is a matter of urgency. Now is the time to ensure that the rich riparian ecosystems present in Sardis are both protected and enhanced.”
Unfortunately she concluded the plan “merely pays lip service to green ideals while in actual fact maintaining the status quo of prioritizing development to the detriment of our natural habitat, our parks and trails and our pedestrian and cycling corridors. Not to mention the livability and, by extension, property values of our city.
“This is quite shortsighted for a document that purports to be a Neighbourhood Plan.”
Members of Chilliwack Citizens for Change, a group that started on Facebook, have been posting photos of their favourite parks and trails on Facebook.
“One thing we noticed is that despite green spaces and better trail networks being the highest concerns raised by polling, there are no planned trails along the Sardis waterways,” according to the group’s Nov. 4 post about the Sardis plan. “These creekside trails are only possible before development. Not to mention, we are all concerned about climate change and the effect green spaces have on mitigating heat and protecting our local water.”
They encouraged people to voice their concerns using the hashtags #ChilliwackLovesTrails and #CHWKGreenspaces.
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