The Mary Lake Park will be a short 10 min. walk from a new community hub being developed in the Highlands at the junction of Finlayson Arm Rd and Millstream Rd. It is already the home of the Community Hall with construction of a new Highlands Community Garden being planned by the local garden group. There are plans to relocate the Municipal Office to the same vicinity.
An existing trail corridor next to Millstream Creek connects this Hub to the Mary Lake property offering the potential for people to easily use non-motorized ways of getting around the community.
The park will ideally host programs that enhance an understanding of the role of nature in our well-being and lives such as Children's Nature Education, Naturalist Clubs, Environmental Awareness, First Nations Medicine and Herb Walks. We are looking forward to community input when we would plan the next phases after acquisition.
The Mary Lake Park Project meets the objectives of the Highlands Integrated Community Sustainability Plan in 20 different subsections under the following categories: Land Use and Natural Areas, Education and Leisure, Economy and Work, Transportation and Mobility, Healthy Community plus Water and Waste Systems.
Significantly it fits with the Sustainable Task Force Priority Actions:
Protect/restore natural habitat representative of the Coastal Douglas-Firecological zone - the property contains these zones
Improve pedestrian and non-motorized corridors and road safety
Intermunicipal Advisory Committee on Disability Issues
On behalf of the Intermunicipal Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, (I.A.C.D.I.) we support your efforts towards securing the Mary Lake property as a park
I.A.C.D.I. sees great potential for Mary Lake to have a user friendly trail that includes an accessible parking stall and an accessible picnic table with a viewpoint. The pathway is paved making it negotiable for all ages and all ability levels.
I.A.C.D.I. thinks this would be a great addition to the community, a destination for family activities and nature education.
Currently, Mount Work has one of the few ‘user friendly’ trails in the Highlands. Since the creation of the User Friendly Trail Guide, I.A.C.D.I. has been seeking another ‘user friendly’ trail in the Highlands. The Mary Lake property is just what we have been looking for and requires little to no alterations to make it inclusive to everyone.
First Nations Cultural Significance
Mary Lake lies within the traditional territories of the WSÁNEC (Saanich) Coast Salish Peoples. We recognize the integral role the ancestors of the WSÁNEC Coast Salish Peoples have played as past stewards of the Mary Lake and Highland lands.
The teachings of the WSÁNEC (Saanich) peoples speak of the land, the water and the people as equal members of a complex system, an integrated entity connected through cultural traditions
WSÁNEC Dedication Ceremony
“We need to protect our land. That is what the Ancestors said. We need to keep the land clean, our streams clean. We need to be giving back to our land.” ~ John Elliot Sr. Tsartlip Elder
Respected elder Tom Sampson, from the Tsartlip First Nation regarding Mary Lake:
“It is a place we could go to find everything that was needed to survive - food, medicine, a place of relaxation, a place of finding one’s own spirit or one’s own soul. It is sort of like a sacred walk. As a young man or woman you walk to find yourself to find your spirit……….”
“Everything has a purpose and that purpose is to be respected and protected for all time. You cannot own it. We have to share that moss and shade of tree with other parts of creation. The residents that are underneath that moss, it is amazing what you will find under there. You will find lizards you will find snakes you will everything there.” “….all the medicines - lots around this area. There is a plant (licorice fern) you have to take the root and clean it and it is like an antibiotic if you have a toothache or sore throat you chew it and the saliva activates the medicine.”
photo: Rob Jirucha
Traditional dedication ceremony at Mary Lake with Tom Sampson respected elder from Tsartlip and the “Yellow Wolf Drummers and Singers”