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December 2012

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WILLIAM SIMMONS MEMORIAL PARK

at Poirier Lake

Background

In 2007 the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Parks Commission acquired about 15 acres of parkland, mostly on the north side of Poirier Lake, consisting of a portion purchased from Timber West (5.09 acres); the closed road right-of-way from the Province (3 acres); and about 7.2 acres donated by Mr. Erik Sellars St. Claire. All three lots are now registered with the CRD.

Erik Sellars St. Clare resided on the property known as La Beaumelle, since 1948 and wished to see his property remain as public parkland. He also asked that the park be named after his long-time friend and local area resident William Simmons who died in 1970 at the age of 55 years.

The map to the right shows the park location

Click image to view full-size
CRD Minutes

The excerpt below is from the Juan de Fuca Parks & Recreation Commission June 7, 2007 meeting minutes outlines the agreement with Mr. Erik Sellars St. Clair regarding his donation of his property to the CRD for a park. Click here to view the complete document.

14. RISE AND REPORT

WHEREAS, In the matter of acquisition of Lot 5, Section 15, Otter District Plan 11437, donation of 2.91 ha (7.2 acres) by Mr. Erik Sellars St. Claire:

The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission and the Capital Regional District Board authorized staff to negotiate an agreement with Mr. Sellars St. Claire to accept a donation of land and to take necessary steps to complete the transfer and granting of a life estate to Mr. Sellars St. Claire. The Commission had authorized a maximum expenditure of $60,000 in order to negotiate terms of the proposed donation. These funds were set aside for the purpose of establishing a “Residential Parcel” and “Life Lease” for one tenant and financial consideration for three remaining tenancies at the conclusion of the Life Estate.

·         The Commission and community parks system has received a wonderful asset through the donation of land. For less than $70,000, an asset worth in excess of $500,000 has been acquired.

·         It cost $60,000 to reach agreement with all parties involved. It is estimated that an additional $3500 - $4000 was absorbed in staff and legal fees to complete the agreement.

·         Expenditures are charged to the Parks Reserve Fund. Currently the Commission has an “under-funded liability” of about $40,000 if the Life Estate were to terminate unexpectedly.

·         The Commission has entered into a “life lease” agreement with one of Mr. Sellars St. Claire’s tenants, to come into effect at the conclusion of the “Life Estate”.

·         The Commission has agreed to grant a “licence to occupy” a portion of CRD land as shown on Schedule B, attached. The sketch plan also depicts the “Leased Premises” once the Life Estate concludes.

·         The Commission has agreed to maintain a potable water source to the Leased Premises.

·         The Commission has agreed to erect and maintain proper signage designating the Leased Premises as private property.

·         Currently, the parkland is encroached upon and public access and ownership is poorly defined.

·         A dilapidated “private” dock is on park property. It presents a liability and requires removal.

·         Opening the parkland to public access puts the onus on the Commission to ensure safe, unencumbered public access to a reasonably safe environment.

The Commission RESOLVED to:

1.   Cover the financial liability of $40,000 as soon as possible either by (a) supplementing the Parks Reserve Fund, or (b) assigning $40,000 from the 2008 Operating Budget.

2.   Complete a survey of the leased premises and clearly define park boundaries at the eastern entry point.

3.   Provide preliminary improvements to the 2.91 ha of Lot 5, Section 15, Otter District Plan 11437 dedicated as parkland and slowly begin encouraging public access by completing the following works:

a.   Remove the dock and maintain the water line

b.   Enhance the dedicated MOT road access “trail” and connect the trail into the park (under the current SEAPARC permit to construct and maintain this access)

c.   Clear the parkland adjacent to the leased premises of debris and remove other signs of encroachment

d.   Install appropriate signage

e.   Prior to any work or enhancement, have Commission representatives meet with the tenant of the leased premises and reach consensus on the improvements to take place.

4.  Seek community partnerships to assist with the development of the park, beginning with provision of a new dock.

The Clean-up

On Saturday, June 20, 2009, a group of volunteers from OPSRRA, the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society, the Juan de Fuca Parks & Recreation Commission and others put in a full day to empty the three buildings on the property, collect all the scrap metal and other recyclables and otherwise prepare the site for demolition.

Clean-up continued from Wednesday through Friday of the following week. Volunteers loaded the demolished buildings and yard waste into containers and trucked everything to the dump. 4M Bobcat & Trucking, Sooke Disposal and Wally Vowles donated equipment, and Dave McClimon, Rick Sullivan, Wally Vowles and Ken Winter donated equipment operator time to fill in the old pool and brought in truck-loads of dirt to do some rough landscaping.

OPSRRA extends thanks to everyone who helped with this community effort organized by the Juan de Fuca Parks & Recreation Commission, Parks & Recreation Commission Manager Ron Hamilton, JDFEA Regional Director Mike Hicks and Alternate Director Wally Vowles.

Another volunteer work party will likely be necessary to do a final clean-up of smaller items that the machinery couldn’t handle and to begin landscaping the area before the public can use the park.

Images

Pictures below, taken between 2007 and 2009, show the portion of the park at Poirier Lake donated by Mr. Sellars St. Clair.

Sheila Whincup, Louise Paterson, Ron Hamilton and SEAPARC took the pictures of the property clean up undertaken by volunteers in June, 2009.

We've added images of the new park facility for you to enjoy. Scroll down, or click here to jump to the images.

Click on any image below to view the full-size image
La Beaumelle

The sign at the main gate.

Erik lived on the property he enjoyed so much from 1948 to 2007.

Erik Sellars St.Claire

Erik was living in the Chalet and had recently donated his property to the CRD.
(Taken 2007)

The buildings and grounds 2007

The Main House (occupied until 2006)

The Chalet Mr. Sellars St. Claire occupied in his later years

The Cabin used as guest accommodation

The pool

The large swimming pool next to the Chalet (later used as a fish pond).

   
The field

The large field to the west of the former building area with numerous old vehicles and a boat.

The old bus was a former Pentecostal School bus, once used as living accommodation. Volunteers towed it away as scrap metal during the clean up.
Old greenhouse

The greenhouse--metal-framed with panes of glass set into the steel framed roof.

(located close to the shores of Poirier Lake and heated by a homemade wood stove)
Clean-up crew

Local volunteers worked along with Juan de Fuca Parks & Recreation Commission and CRD Parks staff to clean up the park on June 20, 2009.

   
The clean-up

The volunteers spent the day clearing the insides of the three dwellings, sorting recyclables and loading dumpsters. They filled two dumpsters with scrap metal, two with scrap wood and several with garbage.

Loading Old Bus With Scrap Metal

Clean-up at Old Greenhouse

Clean-up Around Pool

 Main House

Clean-up in Front of Main House

Clean-up at Main House

Clearing Main House

Seperating the Glass

Moving Hazardous Waste

Sorting Scrap Metal

Wood Here, Metal There

One Barrow Load at a Time

Unloading Scrap Metal by Chalet

The demolition

Operators donated time and excavators to demolish the three dwellings. They then hauled away demolition material in donated dumpsters.

Demolition of Main House

   
Lawn Art

Evidence of landscape art found and left undisturbed.

   
Take us to your leader

Dust and mould concerns necessitated safety equipment for work in some of the demolition areas.

     
Traffic control

The Park is located on a blind corner near the Otter Point and Young’s Lake Road intersection making it necessary to stop traffic when the trucks, hauling demolition material, entered and left the site.

   
Heavy equipment

Some of the donated equipment used to demolish and haul away the building material.

Three excavators, two dump trucks, and a dumpster bin-hauling truck worked on site.
How the park site looks today

Volunteers gave the site where the three buildings and filled pool were located a rough grooming. Other areas such as the field, orchard and lawns were left untouched. We will need another clean up in the fall to pick up material left from the demolition and to make the park safe for public use.

Former Pool Area

Former Chalet & Main House

Former Greenhouse Site

Orchard

Artwork Left to Rest

Ground Cover Remains

 

 

Pet cemetery

This was where Erik buried his pets—Blanche, Fanny, Miss Puss, Goldie, Buddy, Nikki and friends.

     
The memorial cairn

Erik was in the process of building a memorial cairn to his friend William Simmons near the the Chalet site.

You can identify William Simmons' name on a damaged concrete fender next to the cairn.

The Juan de Fuca Parks & Recreation Commission intends to eventually refurbish the memorial cairn.

Erik Sellars St. Clair painting

A signed painting by Erik found in one of the buildings being demolished will be reframed and donated to the CRD with a plaque identifying its heritage.

     
The park gates

The original wrought iron gates to La Beaumelle remain with a temporary CRD Parks sign installed.

   
The new park

New entry to park from Otter Point Road; New picnic and shelter pavilion; Picnic table and horse hitching rail

 
Vantage point overlooking Poirier Lake; Walkway through park from Otter Point Road (in background) to Poirier Lake