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Owl Hill off Lakes Road touted as North Cowichan’s next municipal park

To the residents of Lakes Road in North Cowichan, the patch of municipal forest land locally known as Owl Hill is akin to their own private park.

Leafy trails offer the promise of cool shade on hot days, and the overhead canopy bristles with biodiversity — black-headed grosbeak, chestnut-backed chickadee, purple finch, red-breasted nuthatch, cedar waxwing, and Bewick’s wren, to name but a few bird species.


The forest features older coastal Douglas-fir trees, making it part of the rarest forest type in BC and one that more than 40 levels of government and conservation groups are seeking to protect.

Little wonder that North Cowichan council is being asked this week to formally designate Owl Hill a municipal park.

Dick Zandee, a resident of Quamichan Lake, argues that the forest preserves biodiversity and undisturbed areas for wildlife, while capturing carbon. There are already numerous paths in place, and part of the main trail is wheelchair accessible. There’s also evidence of Indigenous use of the forest in the form of culturally modified trees.

The land totals about 75 hectares, he says, and is roughly bounded by Herd Road to the north, Calais Road to the south, Richards Creek to the west, and Lakes Road to the east.

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Zandee is supported by David Haley, hired as North Cowichan’s first municipal forester in 1982. He currently serves on the steering committee of the Coastal Douglas-fir Conservation Partnership.

Haley says the forest was likely logged in the 1940s and allowed to naturally regenerate. He is impressed with the biodiversity of trees and wetlands, and says the site represents future old-growth for the municipality.

Council will consider the park proposal at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday.

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— Larry Pynn, June 10, 2024


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