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I cruised the interior of Victoria Park in Charlottetown the other day and reached the conclusion that the park does not need development. It needs rescuing.
Some people like to use the word ‘pristine’ to describe the park. But even its outer shell or ring is not pristine, unless you believe a circumferential road, a ball park, a swimming pool, a colorful plastic playground, tennis courts, a house, an outhouse, a band shell/car wash, a boardwalk, and now a floating dock to put us 60 feet closer to Fort Amherst, are pristine.
And those are only the features that are evident from the outside. In the midst of the park are some even worse features: several walking trails, each wide enough to drive a truck down, trail intersections big enough to have a party, several piles of aggregate easily accessible to the trucks, and a paved road through the center. There is one feature that might be termed pristine if we drop any notion of attractiveness from that word. This is a small bog, overgrown and choked with reeds, and almost dry, in what has been one of the rainiest springs in memory.
The truth is, Victoria Park is a hodge-podge remnant, somewhere between ugly and destroyed. This has been the result of a lack of understanding by every Charlottetown city council and mayor for the past 50 years. This lack of leadership allowed a ‘development’ attitude to rule the day. This attitude says that any vacant space must be filled with a piece of hardware. This attitude is wrong.
The people who deeded this land for green recreational space had it right. Their intent is shown to be even sounder, as more and more of the park falls to a “built recreation” mindset. A visitor expecting a quiet, green relaxing recreation is instead never far from the crack of a bat, the whir and clack of a skateboard, or the swish and roar of ceaseless auto traffic. For the sake of the park, the intent of its founders, and the recreational needs of both seniors and young people, this has to stop. A real plan, that returns and preserves the park to its original state and use must be developed. And regulations must be in place to ensure this is a lasting change.
I don’t know in detail what steps can lead to that state, but I am certain that a totally new mindset on the part of city council must be the first step. Next, I think the City should form a committee separate from the current Parks and Recreation Committee (let’s call it the Victoria Park Rescue Committee), under a new chair (perhaps the mayor), and including a good proportion of interested citizens. From this, they can establish the goal of approaching a pristine, green park.