Social and cultural dimensions
The City of Victoria
Beacon Hill Park has been owned and administered by the City of Victoria since 1882. It is presently managed by the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture. As part of the city’s parks system, it is considered an important recreational area located in the heart of downtown that is visited by hundreds of thousands people each year. Indeed, in addition to remnant patches of Garry oak meadows, Beacon Hill Park is also currently home to sports fields, a putting green, a petting zoo, playgrounds, ornamental flower gardens, and numerous other recreational amenities. Since 2008, overnight camping has also been permitted in the park. These various uses complicate the management strategies and objectives in the Park. The City employs several full-time staff, who work on the protection of all the “natural areas” throughout the parks system including the Garry oak meadows of Beacon Hill Park. Given the intensive stresses that these natural areas face, the bulk of the City’s work in natural areas involves the conservation and protection from an ever-increasing urban population.
Friends of Beacon Hill Park Society
The Friends of Beacon Hill Park Society is a volunteer run non-profit organization that formed in 1989 to advocate for the protection of a wooded area of the park that was threatened by proposed clearing. As stated on the Friend’s website, the group seeks to ensure that “parks management will maintain Beacon Hill Park in the state it was entrusted” in 1892. The organization has been involved in several legal cases intended to enforce the park’s initial Trust agreement from 1892. The Friends have also undertaken various restoration initiatives in partnership with the City. At times, this volunteer work has created tension with the City’s employees union. Recently, the union opposed the City’s increasing tendency to enlist volunteers to perform maintenance and restoration work in the parks system. This temporarily put a stop to all volunteer work in city parks; however an agreement was subsequently reached that permitted established groups such as the Friends to continue their work while prohibiting volunteer work by new groups.
The Community Tool Shed
The Community Tool Shed is a Lekwungen-led initiative that brings together Lekwungen people and their allies to work on reinstating the Kwetlal food system. The project was initiated in 2010 in order to support the continued efforts of Lekwungen families working to protect and reinstate the Lekwungen food system. As stated on the group’s website, the vision of the Community Tool Shed is to provide the tools and community required to “engage in restoration work in a meaningful way” while learning about the “many ways colonialism has impacted communities beyond ecological factors” (Community Tool Shed). The group meets once per month to work on different sites throughout the Lekwungen homelands, including Beacon Hill Park. The group’s work includes removing invasive plants that inhibit the growth and wellbeing of the camas. Although the Community Tool Shed informs the City about their work in the park, they do not ask permission from the City to do this work, nor do they take direction from Parks management.
Friends of Beacon Hill Park (2015)