Plant Destruction at Finlayson Point

By Janis Ringuette

For thousands of years, wildflowers and grasses grew tall on Finlayson Point. A spectacular display of blue camas flowers covered the area each spring until a few years ago. Only bare dirt and a few tough weeds are left today because the City of Victoria allowed off-leash dogs and their owners to overuse the area.

1957 photo                                              2004 photo

1957 Finlayson Pt. meadow  Finlayson Pt. damage

Botanist Dr. T. Christopher Brayshaw calls what happened an “extremely concentrated degradation of the grassland community.” He wrote:

...the expanding bare area is conspicuously too heavily trampled to support a plant cover. This change has progressed most rapidly in the last 7 or 8 years, since this has become a destination area where people gather to walk their dogs off their leads, and to socialize. (Brayshaw, “The State of the Wild Plant Communities of Beacon Hill Park,” January 15, 2001, p. 12-14)

The contrast between Finlayson Point and Holland Point--areas that were comparable before--is striking. The grassland vegetation on Holland Point, shown below right, is still relatively healthy; many native plant species gone from Finlayson Point still survive on Holland Point. Dr. Brayshaw believes this comparison “holds a lesson for us” and that we must apply that lesson to other areas of the park. Both photos below were taken on the same day, May 8, 2004.

Finlayson Point                                               Holland Point

Finlayson Pt. damage   2004 Holland Pt. meadow

“We should not confuse the right of use with the right to cause damage,” Dr. Brayshaw concluded.

"The Finlayson Point area has clearly exceeded its capacity to absorb the trampling impact of crowds and still recover its integrity; and now presents a prospect of probably irreversible degradation," Dr. Brayshaw explained. "This is the effect of use by just our local population, unassisted by crowds of visiting festival-goers." In order to begin repairing the Finlayson Point damage, he recommends fencing to keep all traffic off the site while it heals.

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