Re: Royston ‘waterfront’ trail (AKA the Trail to Nowhere).
I’m writing in regards to the so-called Royston waterfront trail. What began as a ‘restoration’ project of an existing waterfront path has now become a half-a-million-dollar tour of the neighbourhood.
Rather than concentrating on erosion control and the preservation of the existing trail, the CVRD is focusing on what they refer to as their ‘retreat’ strategy, which constitutes moving the trail inland and letting the existing land/trail continue to erode away.
For those who are not familiar with the project, the Royston trail is jointly funded through a $325,000 provincial grant and by the CVRD.
The trail is proposed to ‘begin’ at a parking area at the end of Hilton Road by the Royston Wrecks that, although culturally significant to the Valley, has become a popular spot for dumping garbage, drug dealing and partying — and continues approximately 900 metres (or the length of less than 20 houses) north, where it dead-ends at Chinook Road, and approximately 50 metres (or the length of five or six houses) south, where it dead-ends at Lince Road.
Although many have been under the impression that this trail will eventually link up with the existing Courtenay Riverway path, the reality of the situation is that a number of property owners between Marriott and Chinook roads own their land to the high-water mark.
Should the two paths attempt to be ‘linked,’ this would necessitate recreational users to leave the Riverway path and travel along the highway to reach the Royston trail — not a very appealing proposition for most nature lovers or families.
The south end of the Royston trail again terminates at a road leading back to the highway.
This trail is a significant waste of money better spent elsewhere — nearly half a million dollars for a dead-end trail that is less than 1,200 metres in length. What about putting the funds towards restoring public access to Stotan Falls?
The CVRD is now proposing to move the trail from the existing waterfront location to one metre above the highest tide. This requires the trail to be moved much further inland and close to many of the homes along the trail.
The trail has gone from a waterfront walk, to a tour through the trees/lawns/gardens, with the view of neighbourhood houses.
The proposed relocation of the trail will also have a significant impact on the natural habitat and wildlife in the area. Rather than preserving the path in its current location, a portion of the trail is being relocated around a slough, which (albeit man-made) has been popular with waterfowl and uncommon birds, such as the Green Heron for over 70 years.
Removing the path from its existing location will remove the barrier between the ocean and the slough and the habitat will be destroyed. Further, the ‘new’ location of the path has also moved significantly closer to a number of trees that have been popular for resident pairs of mating eagles for decades.
In addition to discussions about trail placement, many of the neighbours have expressed concerns about the trail itself.
We still do not have clear answers about how the trail construction would take place, what funds will be allocated to trail maintenance, and how the CVRD will address the ongoing issues of drug dealing, partying, and garbage control at the Royston Wrecks.
Although the opinions in this letter are my personal thoughts, there is a reason that over 80 per cent of neighbours in the immediate area of the trail (many of which are former proponents of the project) have signed a petition to oppose and reject the proposed realignment of the trail and now are appealing to the CVRD to cease all further work and financial expenditure.