LETTER: Panorama property should remain in ALC

Thanks for your article on the ALR exclusion application on the Panorama Recreation lot and the amendment to the language in the OCP to accommodate this by the District of North Saanich.

If the District is successful in getting the property removed from the ALR then there will be few restrictions in the development on this property. The District says there are no plans for development; but there has been discussion for six years of putting a library on this property. Coun. McClintock stated at the recent public hearing that development at the property is not complete. Don’t kid yourself; there will be more development on this property. It is zoned as Public Assembly 2 which gives a broad scope of what could be developed on the site. It may or may not be a library; it could be something totally different, who really knows.

What is even more concerning is the amendment to the OCP which was also passed. Since the District does not have any parcel of land that they can include in the ALR in exchange for excluding the Panorama site (as per their bylaws), the District has changed the language in the OCP. The amendment states: “The inclusion requirement in Section 5.11 does not apply to land that has been approved by the ALC for non-farm uses since 1975 and that is used solely for public recreation and community uses.”

At the public hearing I asked if the same could be used for the Glen Meadows Golf Course, as it has been used for non-farm uses since 1975 and was used solely for public recreation and community uses: golf course, tennis courts, curling rink, restaurant, community functions and events. Council could not get a confirmed answer from staff, however, they voted in favour of the motion anyways. I hope this doesn’t open up a new can of worms for council which could cost taxpayers financially.

The Panorama lot was donated to the District in 1975 for a park and recreational land with the condition the land is kept “forever” as a park and recreational land, and remains in the ALR. So let’s do what the donor of the property wanted 40 years ago. The only part of the property that is left as a “park” setting is the Eric Sherwood Trail (which also acts as a green buffer for residents on Haro Park Terrace). A building lot of 0.8 hectares (building and additional parking) was proposed on the northwest corner of the property for a library or other building. This would significantly disrupt or destroy the trail as it presently is. Shouldn’t we be preserving green space instead of putting up a new buildings and parking lots?

There were 47 written submissions sent to the mayor and council, with 38 opposed to the exclusion and amendment to the OCP and nine in favour. It is now going to the ALC for a decision on exclusion. If you are opposed to this please send a written submission to alc.island@gov.bc.ca.

Gord Gummer

North Saanich

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