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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Striking a balance between intense recreation and parks conservation in Victoria, BC : a study of Thetis Lake, Francis/King and Mill Hill regional parks Lommerse, Julia Cathrina

Abstract

The purpose of many parks, particularly those that aim to preserve extensive natural areas is twofold. First, to protect the natural environment within the park boundaries and, secondly to provide the public with recreational opportunities. Often these two purposes clash in a dynamic growing community; such is the situation that exists for the parks case- studied for this thesis. Perhaps, in order to balance the dual and somewhat opposing mandates, a new paradigm or approach to park planning and design should be considered. One that seeks to balance the fragile and complex ecosystems found within parks and their connection to the regional environment, while recognizing the recreational pressure exerted by the community. Standard approaches to planning, engineering, and construction are often employed in various types and sizes of parks across Canada. As a result, infrastructure and facilities often create generic spaces, which seem out of context and character for the area. Park facilities, infrastructure and connections should ultimately protect fragile environments; respond to the ecology of the park and the character of the place. This thesis explores these dilemmas and seeks to provide an example of how a landscape ecology approach can be applied to three conservation parks—Thetis Lake, Francis/King and Mill Hill Regional Parks on southern Vancouver Island in the Capital Regional District. This area, which includes the capital city of Victoria, is experiencing rapid development. As a result, the three regional parks used as a case study for this thesis are facing the pressure of increased visitorship. Now that more recreational demands have been placed on the park the antiquated facilities, plus the fact that the park infrastructure and design was based on previous uses, have started to show their inadequacies. Essentially the parks' imageablility, recreational carrying capacity and ecology are the key components that are suffering. Perhaps an alternative approach to planning and design can enhance and contribute to the healthy ecological function of these parks, and at the same time meet the increased recreational demands and convey the image that these parks are essentially conservation parks.

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