Posts Tagged ‘firehall trail’

Phase Four & the Firehall Trail

 When Wildwood Developments (and others) were busy cutting Gabriola into half-acre lots (before the establishment of the Island’s Trust) they were doing so in ‘phases’. The last phase took place off Berry Point Road and up Norwich hill to Chelwood. The “Phase Four” developers went for the tree-named streets (Tamarack, Balsam, Spruce, Hemlock, Larch,Jackpine). It was considered a bit ‘out of the way’ and took a little longer than some phases to develop.

go through this phase

If you know where to find them, lots of nice trails lead to Phase Four.

The name may not be the most romantic, but it stuck – perhaps because it was the last phase and because it was so easily identifiable. During a particularly robust boom in the early 1990′s, while land in that area was still pretty cheap, one prolific home builder – Gordon Stevens – bought several lots in Phase Four and built ‘spec homes’ for the burgeoning real estate market. Had he done so a few years earlier, that area may well have become ‘Stevensville’. A half dozen of his houses helped make up that little community that marks the last of the half-acre-lot subdivisions on Gabriola Island.

it's just a phase

If you get your mail here - you probably live in Phase Four.

Things may change for Phase Four if the Church Road – Spruce Road connection takes place. In the mid 90′s the entire subdivision was completely cut off from the rest of the island as a result of a particularly nasty windstorm that took down several huge trees along Berry Point Road. Effectively cut off from emergency services for over 24 hours, residents were justifiably concerned.  If the proposed extension of Church Road takes place, Phase Four will be much more accessible from the village of Gabriola.  

For many years – until the late eighties, and before Church Road existed, the ‘firehall trail’ cut through from behind the firehall  to the end of Spruce, across an eighty acre parcel of heavily forested private land – owned by Weldwood at one point.  When in good enough shape, the trail was used by the fire department, and anyone else who had decent tires, lots of clearance,  and a bit of nerve. It was  the local shortcut to and (especially) from ‘the Surf’ late at night, when one wished to avoid the main roads.   The trail went up and down hills and valleys and wound through the old forest – and through a few puddles that were big enough for fish.  One certainly did not want to meet a vehicle coming the other way.  Most trips on the  ’firehall trail’ were  an adventure.   Portions are still used for a walking and cycling shortcut today, but it is still on private property – for now. 



The forest is changing around this portion of the old firehall trail, as arbutus and alder start to take over....for now.



06 2010