Opening the Front Door: December Facilities Projects at The Haven

By Rachel Davey

The Haven’s Facilities Masterplan was launched at the end of 2014. It represents the best collective wisdom and vision for the institution and will serve as a road map for site development, infrastructure, landscape, building renovation and new construction. In 2015 we completed the Thunderbird Dorms and a major upgrade and consolidation of our waste water system, with the generous support of our donors, Scott Poole & Laurie Kelley and David Beckwermert. We will be taking the opportunity of our December shutdown to begin two other projects: creating the site for the new car park and preparing to bring three-phase hydro on to the property.

The most powerful message that came out of the public consultation on the Facilities Masterplan was to move the car park out of the heart of The Haven property. This opens up the space for the new lodge, and offers the opportunity to build a much-needed additional large underground cistern, even before the work on the new lodge begins. Extra parking spaces close to the Wong & McKeen Phoenix Auditorium will also be a great benefit to the Gabriola community attending events. In December we will begin creating the new site for the car park, which will be in the area on the left as you come through the Haven entrance, behind the Phoenix and Heron buildings and in the meditation garden. This will also be the site of the future new electrical building for the three-phase hydro project.

We will be taking down a number of trees in that area, something we do not do without much prior planning and consultation. In doing this we are following one of the guiding principles of the Facilities Masterplan, namely to support the long-term viability of The Haven and at the same time doing as much as we can to protect the environment. Here are some of the considerations we have taken in preparation for this project:

  • The site chosen is an area which is already to some extent cleared and does not get much vehicle or foot traffic.
  • The trees in the area have been mapped so we know which are significant. It is the area with the lowest density of significant trees on the property.
  • We are intending to mitigate the impact by moving the nurse logs in the area (these are fallen trees which now support new life); transplant any important understory plants; mill and reuse the timber produced for new buildings and fencing.
  • We are also planning to plant elsewhere on the property. This is an opportunity to potentially replace all of the significant trees we will lose as well as to diversify our trees and understory thereby ensuring that we are planting for climate change resilience and protecting our shoreline from erosion.

We are drawing on considerable expertise for this project. We are using an experienced arborist to remove the trees, to ensure that this is done expertly and with minimal impact on the trees that are left. We are also making use of the Landscape Management Plan which accompanies the Facilities Masterplan, created by Topographics Landscape Architects of Gabriola. Most importantly, we are drawing on the extensive knowledge of Don Mattson, The Haven’s gardener. Don says:

I have spent many years as the steward of the Haven Lands and my connection with the land and the people who come to The Haven runs deep. As I wind down my career in the garden I am excited to see wonderful plans for the future of The Haven. I have been in consultation with the planning committees over the past year and am fully in support of the plans for the new car park. I have been aware of the poor condition of the forest in the area that will be affected and believe what is planned will only benefit the health of this part of the property. It is always difficult to see trees come down and I believe that in the bigger vision of the Haven future we are heading in the right direction. There are some beautiful lines by the great poet Wendell Berry which were put into a song by Eric Bibb. These lines tell the story I try to live by and I believe are fitting to remember as we begin work on the new parking area: “When I rise up let me rise up, joyful as a bird. When I fall let me fall without regret, like a leaf.” I thank everyone for the care taken in making these decisions, and hope for the support of all who care about this beautiful, healing place called The Haven.

As part of The Haven’s planning for the future, we are extending the upgrade that BC Hydro started a number of years ago along Taylor Bay Road, by upgrading the lines along Davis Rd from single phase to 3-phase. The Haven uses more power than an average household, and bringing three phase hydro on to the Haven property will stabilize the service and make it more balanced. Between now and the end of December, BC Hydro will be replacing the poles along Davis Road and installing the three phase hydro lines. The main disruption will be to our neighbours along Davis Road, and we are working with BC Hydro to keep this to a minimum. We appreciate the support we have already received from our neighbours as we move forward with this project.

If you have questions, please feel free to email Rachel Davey or Dennis Marriott. Work will begin on Monday December 7 and will be completed before Christmas. You are also most welcome to join a group of us on Saturday December 5 at 1pm to move the significant plants and to say goodbye and thank you to the trees that will be coming down.

Thanks to all the donors who have combined their vision for the future of The Haven with ours and enabled us to move ahead on the Facilities Masterplan. They are David Beckwermert, Chriss Corbett, Mark and Sandy Gunderson, C.Anne Hale, Shana Johnston and Dave Goossen, Laurie Kelley and Scott Poole, Al Shultz and Leona Kolla, and Anna Weiers. If you would like to know more about donating to the Facilities Masterplan, please email Louise Amuir.

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