A group dedicated to Bowker Creek hopes the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) will halt the proposed sale of land along the creek.
SD 61 announced a deal in October 2021 to sell 1.9 acres of land south of Lansdowne Middle School to Victoria Hospice for $2.5 million.
This surprised the members of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society.
The sale of the triangular-shaped property to Saanich would be subject to Department of Education approval and would have to pass three readings of a disposition by-law by the SD61 school board.
If approved, the property would be used as a new center of excellence for Victoria Hospice, with space for expanded services including bereavement support, community education and practical programs for those diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and bereaved.
The hospice is a service that everyone supports, said Soren Henrich, chair of the Friends of the Bowker Creek Initiative steering committee. But, he argues, there are simply too many constraints to build on the 1.9-acre plot, which includes half the width of the creek and is a known floodplain.
Society members Peter and Susan Haddon of Saanich live nearby and say extreme rainfall in November 2021 highlighted the potential for flooding when the Haultain Bridge was nearly underwater.
The company supports the restoration and enhancement of Bowker Creek and its watershed to a healthy state, guided by the Capital Regional District’s Bowker Creek Master Plan.
The master plan, finalized in 2011, outlines a 100-year plan for the waterway, including rejuvenation works. SD61 signed on in 2018 and has been responsible for significant assistance in restoration work carried out adjacent to Oak Bay High.
That’s why society members were surprised when the district announced its proposal to sell what they had always considered community green space.
“There was never any conversation or collaboration about what to do with the property,” Peter Haddon said.
An SD 61 backgrounder shows that community engagement began on October 14 and included an online question and answer session on November 3. including environmental and sustainable design and to renovate and replace schools.
Residents had the opportunity to speak at two meetings in November and December, but it felt like a one-sided conversation, Susan Haddon said.
In December, four trustees and staff, along with representatives from Victoria Hospice, the District of Saanich and Friends of Bowker Creek, met for a presentation, discussion and tour of the creek with members of Bowker Creek Initiative.
At its next meeting, council deferred the vote on the land disposition by-law with the agenda item on January 24. Find the agenda and how to participate online at sd61.bc.ca.
Do you have a tip for the story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.
EnvironmentGreater Victoria School Districts61