Group aims to protect the ‘Stanley Park of Comox’

The Comox Valley Conservation Strategy invites the public to Highland Secondary School in Comox on Feb. 23 to learn about the strategy to protect the integrity of the Northeast Woods.

The area has been called the Stanley Park of Comox, the CVCS says in a news release. This large natural area has sensitive ecosystem lands that include natural springs, mature second-growth forest, meadows, wetlands, and important wildlife habitat.

The area is also used by local residents for recreation and acts as a living laboratory for students of the local schools. However, nearly 20 well-used hectares of these woods, occupying approximately one half of District Lot 194, remain unprotected, notes the CVCS, which describes itself as “a growing coalition of 17 local environmental and residents’ associations.”

In response to strong public interest expressed through the OCP process, town council is applying to the Province for a Crown grant that would allow much of this area be designated as parkland, while the gravel pit portion would be allocated for affordable housing.

There is no guarantee that this Crown grant will be awarded. In fact recently, a similar request for a Crown grant for land in the Seal Bay area was met with a requirement that $10 million be raised.

Jack Minard, executive director of the Comox Valley Land Trust, Dr. Will Marsh, a landscape architect and hydrologist, and Kerry Dawson of the conservation strategy, will outline the importance of this natural area in terms of biodiversity and hydrology, and will present a strategy for its protection.

The Town’s proposal for an affordable housing development in the gravel pit area will also be discussed. Mayor Paul Ives will be on hand to outline the city’s plan for the area.

Over the past two months, Bill Halliday of the Comox Town Resident’s Association has been leading local photographers and conservation strategy volunteers on photo walks in the Northeast Woods.

A stunning slideshow of their work will showcase and celebrate the beauty of the area for those who have been unable to explore it on their own. Local musicians Amy Cunningham and Paul Rodgers will give a musical performance that will inspire all. Trail maps to the area will also be available.

— Comox Valley Conservation Strategy