Who Are Friends of Beacon Hill Park?
In 1989, The Friends of Beacon Hill Park was formed from the earlier
Friends of the Southeast Woods. The native trees and underbrush
still stand from before the land was designated as a Park on the
corner of Dallas Road and Cook Street. This groups made a studied
report with observations, cataloguing wildlife, and speaking to
neighbours and biology experts.
following section is exerpted from The Victoria Naturalist,
Victoria Natural History Society, September/October 1989 Vol. 46.2
Beacon Hill Park: An Update By Anne Fletcher of the Friends of Beacon
In the spring of this year a group calling itself the Friends of
the Southeast Wood was formed to fight for the preservation of the
natural wooded area that makes up the southeast portion of Beacon
Hill Park. City Council was at the time considering a proposal to
clear extensive areas of the wood in response to concerns about
offensive uses of the park and perceived threats to personal security.
We (the Friends) presented a proposal to Council suggesting alternative
solutions to these problems (see the July/ August issue of The
Naturalist), and convinced the City to postpone the intended
clearing for several months until the effectiveness of our proposals
could be evaluated. Our group has since registered as a non-profit
society under the name the Friends of Beacon Hill Park, reflecting
our broader concerns with the natural and human history of the park
as a whole. Over the summer we have continued to lobby for special
status for the wild, uncultivated areas of the park, and have begun
to implement some of our plans for establishing a positive presence
in the Southeast Wood. These plans include developing a system of
clearly defined nature trails and offering nature walks and interpretive
programs in the area.
The original "stay of execution" for the Southeast Wood was to
have been until mid-September, but at this August meeting the Parks
and Recreation Commission decided to recommend to City Council that
this period be further extended until its Beacon Hill sub-committee
could meet with our group and look in greater detail at our proposals.
In June we conducted a survey of residents living next to the Wood
(along lower Cook Street) and found that almost all of them support
what we are doing. This was quite a relief, since we had been led
to believe that most of them wanted the area cleared. On the contrary,
most reported having no problems with the area, though a few neighbours
said they were bothered by noise such as squealing of tires or people
drinking or walking up Cook Street after leaving Clover Point or
the beach below Cook Street, and do not originate in the park. �survey
conducted by the Victoria City Police yielded substantially the
We began our nature and history walks in mid-July and continue
to recruit volunteers to conduct special walks focusing on such
themes as seabirds, and seashore life, ethnobotany, geology, heritage
trees, native history and the history of the Hudson's Bay Company.
The walks have been particularly popular with residents of James
Bay and Fairfield, but we've also had visitors from Edmonton, Toronto,
and Texas. We recently cooperated with the Royal Astronomical Society
of Canada (Victoria Centre) and the Royal British Columbia Museum
in setting up telescopes on Beacon Hill for viewing Neptune during
the Voyageur II fly-past (August 21 to 26).
Construction of nature trails has not yet begun. We have proposed
a four foot wide trail in the north and south sides of the Wood.
Since part of the north side is under water from approximately October
to the end of April, we would need to construct several boardwalks
in this area. The south side is a drier coastal shrub area and therefore
does not present the same sort of trail-building problems. We've
been told that the birds were affected when the middle area was
cleared of underbrush in 1985. Our long-term plans are to replant
this area with native plants that are food for birds, and with wildflowers
to encourage more people to visit the area. We also propose closing
off unwanted trails and replanting them with native plants.
Don Anderson, Director of Parks, seems very concerned about protecting
the wet north area in particular. Laura Acton and Tom Loring, who
are on the Beacon Hill sub-committee, are also very supportive of
our efforts, so we have good reason to hope that things will work
out well. In addition we have the support of the Victoria Natural
History Society, the Greenbelt Society, and botanists at the Royal
British Columbia Museum.
The Friends are encouraged by the results of the neighbourhood
survey, the popularity of our nature walks, and the support we have
been receiving from other Victorians, and we are excited about the
interpretive programs being planned for the future and the possibility
of a history and nature center. Political lobbying has consumed
much of our time so far, but this has by necessary to ensure the
preservation of the area. Our group has now become part of the history
of Beacon Hill Park, and we hope that 100 years from now someone
giving history and nature walk will speak favourably of our efforts
to save the wild areas of the park for future generations.