It’s hard to imagine the District of Saanich without the iconic red octopus of Gyro Park, or the Cadborosaurus structure.
Yet since 1950, the threat of a Cadboro Bay secession has existed. And it’s not just the village, but also Ten Mile Point, Wedgewood and Queenswood, which make up the neighbourhood today. While the palm-tree-pruning residents can take pride in living in one of Canada’s most beautiful parts, it also carries a rebellious history. For some, it’s humorous. For others, it is not.
The movement is dormant now. But the foundation for a Saanich rebellion is there. It’s only been 13 months since the Cadboro Bay Residents Association’s last threat of secession. It came in November 2015, when chair Eric Dahli backed a CBRA challenge that Saanich council re-visit the Environmental Development Permit Area, or the association would reignite a campaign to join another municipality.
That movement has been scuttled, as council ordered a third-party review of the EDPA, which is currently underway. And though some will dismiss Cadboro Bay’s secession rhetoric as an empty threat, it stems from a very real precedent.
In 1949, the District of Saanich transitioned to a modern municipal model from the ward system it created in 1908, two years after incorporation. Under the 1908 model, Saanich was divided into six (and later seven) administrative wards. Each ward was represented by a councillor. When the ward system was abolished in 1949, Ward 6 made a move to leave. By 1950 it succeeded, and became the District of Central Saanich.
What few realize is that Cadboro Bay also moved to leave Saanich in 1950. A group of Cadboro Bay communities, including Queenswood and Ten Mile Point, banded together in opposition to a Saanich-backed development in Caddy Bay Village. Oak Bay’s interest was piqued, but as one report said, it was the cost of putting sewage into Ten Mile Point that ultimately turned Oak Bay away.
The sentiment remained, as Cadboro Bay made another serious push in 2000.
Dahli recalled the year-2000 movement, which gained serious traction.
“It would have affected 2,000 homes, putting them into the Oak Bay tax base,” Dahli said. “We were having issues with Saanich when, at [the CBRA] AGM, there was a motion to instigate leaving Saanich and joining Oak Bay.”
Dahli was the chair and remembers awaiting a seconder for the motion, which came sooner than he’d expected.
“From what I can recall, it was a unanimous vote in favour of researching [a secession].”
The CBRA did its due diligence and learned it was, in fact, possible to leave Saanich under the municipal act.
“Our issues with Saanich were missing sidewalks, potholes, the oft-flooding of Gyro Park and a sinking tennis court in Wedgewood, things of that nature.”
Dahli soon met with then mayors Chris Causton of Oak Bay and Frank Leonard of Saanich.
“It picked up steam. We ended up with an editorial in the Saanich News and on the radio, and low and behold, Saanich started quickly fixing the items on our to-do list, proclaiming it was a coincidence.”
Today, the association is happy. Two of the bigger items on its ‘to-do’ list are the rezoning application for a new townhouse development on lower Penrhyn, and the issue of derelict boats on the Oak Bay end of Cadboro Bay beach.