The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria says youth will benefit from plans to sell 40 acres of its Metchosin property.
An application to subdivide the property has drawn criticism from the Metchosin mayor and the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin, who say any number of homes on the property would diminish the natural value of the land.
An online petition to stop the subdivision has garnered more than 540 virtual signatures.
The Boys and Girls Club has been operating on the land since 1984, on loan from the provincial government. In 2004 the organization purchased the property for $1.6 million.
In a press release, the club says it purchased the property at a time when significant youth justice needs required space for wilderness and nature programming. But since then, changes in young offender laws and youth needs have reshaped priorities.
“By selling a portion of our property, we can remain responsive and adaptive to these changing priorities across our communities,” said Rebecca Lang, president of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria. “This has been a considered decision. Thousands of young people have enjoyed life-changing experiences at this property.”
The club says the land sale would guarantee additional programs and supports at a time when demand for services is at record levels.
“As a responsible non-profit organization, our intention is to closely monitor our usage and costs while continuing to offer programming in Metchosin on our remaining land,” Lang said. “We hope people will look at our long track record of serving the community and see that we are, as always, putting the needs of the region’s young people first.”
The Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin is calling for the club to pause their subdivision application and consult with the community.
The group points to a news release issued by the Boys and Girls Club in 2004 after they purchased the land, in which the club says it understands the importance of 98 acres to Metchosin residents.
Under Metchosin’s land-use bylaw, the 40-acre portion in question is a legal subdivision and does not require rezoning. The decision goes to an approving officer, not council.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns is not pleased and previously told Black Press Media that council would be looking at the club’s tax-exempt status “through a completely different lens” when it comes to council.
– With files from Rick Stiebel