Input received from residents through the community survey and at the public open houses is reflected in the final plan. Public feedback resulted in adoption of the vision and the list of priority areas.
Thirty-nine residents responded to the community survey. This represents a return rate of 7.4% (direct marketing companies consider a 10% return an excellent response.) The community survey asked residents what parks and trails they currently use on Denman Island, how satisfied they are with the number of parks and trails on Denman Island, what kind of recreational opportunities they would like to see more of, and what additions they would like to see to the parks and trails system. The answers to these questions informed the first map and list of priorities for future parks and greenways that was then presented to the public for feedback at the first public open house held on June 23, 2010.
A second open house was held on November 24, 2010. A questionnaire was available at this open house and on the CVRD’s website for those wishing to respond. A total of 44 people attended the meeting. Fiftyfour responses to the open house questionnaire were received. The general response to the draft plan received at the November open house was supportive.
The draft plan’s vision statement sounded reasonable to most (42 of the 54 respondents), although some suggested variations such as adding hunting, either deleting the word “passive” or changing it to “pedestrian” or perhaps to “non-motorized”.
The draft goals were supported by the majority of respondents (46), at the same time, emphasizing the need for consultation and community involvement in setting priorities.
Forty-one out of 51 who responded to the question as to priorities for parks and greenways supported a ferry to ferry multi-use trail as the first priority. Some respondents pointed out that while biodiversity and wildlife corridors and conservation are very important, these areas fall under the jurisdiction of the Islands Trust and other organizations. Rather than a ferry-to-ferry trail, the number one priority for some (7) respondents would be a north-south multi-use trail. For others (4 each), it would be connections between existing trails or public washrooms. If some of the provincial lands are designated as nature parks, a couple of respondents would make public access to these their first priority; another couple would move beach access from priority number 4 to number 1.
Other suggested changes in the priority list included the following candidates for priority number 2: connections between existing trails (10); public washrooms (4); public access to reserves and nature parks (4); access to waterfront (3); and signage (2).
Third priority was given by others to a parks and trails map (9) and to beach accesses (9); public washrooms (5); public access to nature parks and reserves (4) and signage (3).
The suggested implementation strategies were generally seen as practical (40) – with the exception of working with the Islands Trust Fund and using the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption program. These were viewed as separate and different from a parks and greenways plan.
A number of open house attendees and respondents suggested that if the CVRD were to focus its time, energy and some funds on improving the trails network, this would meet with the approval of a significant portion of Denman Island residents. Respondents wanted to see attention focused on existing trails and on providing connectivity for non-motorized uses.