I attended the December open house showing the three sewage treatment plant development options for City of Powell River. While I understand the purpose of the open house was to discuss the technology and potential visual and environmental impacts of three options, there was a lack of consideration of the social impact regarding the permanent loss of Townsite green space.
By social impact, I am referring to City of Powell River mayor and council’s attitude toward development of the old golf course, which was built in 1922 by millworkers and used for more than 70 years. It has been part of Powell River’s cultural landscape since much of Townsite was built, just as Willingdon Beach has been part of Westview’s cultural landscape and Mowat Bay has been part of Cranberry’s.
Cultural landscapes are important to residents. They provide context for our day-to-day experiences, a connection to our history and provide us a sense of place. Communities with a strong sense of place have a strong identity that is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors. Townsite has its own personality that is felt by its residents and valued by the all the people of Powell River. It is the “old soul” of Powell River.
Townsite was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995. It is a prestigious designation and confirms Townsite is an historical asset to the entire community and country.
The golf course is included as a character-defining element in the National Historic Site designation as a sport facility provided by the Powell River Company for the recreation and well-being of its workers. It has continued to function in this capacity as a natural parkland with trails and easily accessible open space for community members to enjoy a walk in the sun or stroll with their dog on the way to Second Beach.
Townsite residents who have bought homes, invested hard work and money to restore their houses, and love their homes and special neighbourhood need to have a say in what happens there. They are affected on a daily basis by the sun on the water, the light in their living rooms and the sound of birds through their windows.
The old golf course land has been Townsite’s green space for almost 100 years. It has been used continuously for recreation throughout its history and should be kept as a park.
I’ve heard the opinion that Powell River has too many parks. The city bought the land for Millennium Park and Powell River Community Forest provided a grant for more than $1 million to buy timber rights and save the trees.
Why does Townsite not receive the same consideration?
The gain of Millennium Park, Willingdon Beach Trail and Westview’s sea walk means Townsite loses its most significant green space? That’s not right. It is Townsite's park and it needs to be treated appropriately.
Joan Campbell is a Townsite resident with a master's degree in landscape architecture.