A path wandering through the trees

Whaletown Commons just got Bigger

Whaletown Commons, on Cortes Island, is growing. A 9½ acre parcel of forest is being added to the Northwest corner of this Regional Park.  

At their November 23 meeting, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Board passed the motion to annex this parcel of Crown land in less than two minutes.

Cropped image of Whaletown Park – courtesy the SRD website

The principal voice in the audio clip taken from that meeting is SRD Chair Mark Baker, who quickly ran through the motions, to suspend a second and third reading, to the final vote. If you listen very carefully, you might be able to hear Baker acknowledging Cortes Island Director Mark Vonesch moving that Bylaw 479, to authorize the acquisition of this property, be adopted. Director Robyn Mawhinney* added, “I’ll second that.” The motion carried with no opposition.  

The story actually began more than four years ago. Former Regional Director Noba Anderson brought forward the motion to ask the province for this parcel at the Board’s June 20, 2018, meeting.

One of the main trails in the park runs through a 3.87 hectare (9½ acre) parcel of crown land, butting up to the Northwest corner of the park. 

The staff report states, “In order to ensure the Whaletown Commons trail system remains intact into the future and to protect the natural attributes of the Crown land parcel, which are similar to that of Whaletown Commons, staff is recommending adding this parcel of land to the park.” 

Location of the 9.5 acres- courtesy SRD staff report

The estimated cost of this acquisition was $450, for application and registration fees, to be taken from the Electoral Area B community parks budget. 

The Province of British Columbia approved the SRD’s application to occupy this parcel of land, and provided a licence of occupation. 

Cortes Island residents contributed $75,000 towards the original purchase of Whaletown Commons in 2014. At that time, Hubert Havelaar explained why it is important to the community. 

“  It’s just a wonderful habitat area for wildlife, including the fish, certainly lots of deer. We know that it’s a major corridor for cougar and wolf especially. It’s a green space that connects the north end of Cortes Island with that area south of the roads, Channel Rock, and out towards Marina Island. The wolf activity  there is well documented. There were certainly those environmental habitat reasons for protecting an area like that. There were the social reasons of its geographical centeredness on the community, and certainly we thought if the community could possibly purchase that property, it would afford us a very long term access to whatever we wanted to do.”

Top image credit: One of the paths going through Whaletown Commons – Photo by Roy L Hales

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