District of North Saanich had hoped to install a library at the Panorama Rec Centre. (File photo)

North Saanich stumped after land board rejects new library bid

District questions if Agricultural Land Commission interpreting rules in a new way

The District of North Saanich was left surprised after its bid to construct a library on a piece of the Panorama Recreation Centre site was rejected by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

In a ruling dated April 2, the ALC Executive Committee refused two April 6, 2018 applications submitted by North Saanich to: (1) Subdivide a 0.8 ha (2.0 ac) parcel, and (2) Conduct a Non-Farm Use activity (library) within the Agricultural Land Reserve on the subdivided parcel.

ALSO READ: Human Rights museum to restore Coast Salish artist’s Witness Blanket

Mayor Geoff Orr said the decision was unexpected and council needed to discuss whether this was an anomalous decision that should be appealed or if it was part of a new interpretation of the spirit of the rules by the ALC, necessitating a change in future strategy.

“The Agricultural Land Commission decision to refuse the North Saanich applications will initiate a reassessment of the proposal to construct a library on the Panorama Recreation Centre parcel,” said Orr. “District staff will take some time to review the Executive Committee decision internally and also consult with Vancouver Island Regional Library representatives, Panorama Recreation Centre staff, the municipalities of Central Saanich and Sidney, and Capital Regional District staff to determine the next steps.”

ALSO READ: New commemorative loonie marking progress for LGBTQ2+ rights draws mixed response

The extensive consultation is now needed to decide if a new library is viable on the proposed site or if alternatives should be explored, such as building one elsewhere or expanding other facilities outside North Saanich.

The ALC Executive Committee acknowledged that there is a long history of approvals having been granted for non-farm uses on the 6.4 ha (16.0 ac) site. They also stated that the two current district applications are “…consistent with the history of approvals on the property for non-farm uses,” but “…not consistent with its [ALC sic] purpose to preserve agricultural land or encourage farming on agricultural land…”

ALSO READ: French for the Future event to host 300 students in Victoria

The Panorama was only going to be sub-divided for the library and Orr says because the current proposal is now on hold, there are no further plans to develop the rec centre with other initiatives. Worryingly, he says if this decision is indicative of a new interpretation of the rules by the ALC, the Panorama might have difficulty being developed in the future.

Council are scheduled to meet May 6, but Orr says it is unclear whether the ALC’s decision will be discussed then or at a later meeting. From an administrative perspective, there is no rush as the District have a year to appeal the ruling.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Saanich preschool celebrates 30 years with reunion event

Thousands invited RSVP for Carrot Seed Preschool 30-year celebration

Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

Mark Edward Berton attended Victoria High School and has his grave in Flanders Field

Sidney Museum’s Chief Dan George exhibition sees surge of interest

Four mayors, federal Green leader, Tsartlip reps to attend June 21 opening ceremony

Oak Bay artist co-op highlights autobiographical Snapshots showcase

Snapshots runs from June 4 to 22 at Gage Gallery, 2031 Oak Bay Ave.

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon’s trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Most Read