OLD NEWS: This week in Saanich history – April 13-19

The News’ weekly historical feature looks at the brief trial of two teens charged with setting fire to Saanich’s golf course clubhouse

The large clubhouse that sits in the middle of the Cedar Hill Golf Course hasn’t always been there. In fact, the original clubhouse, built in 1971, was destroyed by arson in May 1996.

It was this week in 1997 that the Saanich News reported that the Saanich Police Department contravened the Young Offenders Act following the arrest of two teenaged suspects in relation to the arson case.

After the two boys invoked their right to remain silent, police placed an undercover officer “in a cell pretending to sleep while hoping to catch an earful of incriminating evidence,” the April 16, 1997 article reads.

According to the article, Victoria Youth Court Judge Ann Ehrcke said teenagers have a lesser understanding of their legal rights than adults and cited a section of the Young Offenders Act.

“Freedom of choice for a youth who is detained requires that the youth be cognizant of the fact that he is speaking to or in the presence of a police officer,” Ehrcke wrote in her decision. “An undercover cellmate operation with subjects who are youth is not consistent with this requirement.”

Information collected during the undercover operation, as well as statements from both teens following their arrests, were deemed inadmissible. The latter were inadmissible because the statements were made before the teens were given an opportunity to call their parents, which also breached the teens’ rights.

The two-storey clubhouse was rebuilt in 1997 at a cost of $1.3 million.

In recent years the building has faced turbulent financial troubles. In January 2012, after four years of running a deficit, Saanich council voted to restructure the food and beverage operations in the clubhouse, shutting down the second-floor restaurant.

According to Saanich, the closure helped save the municipality $100,000 in 2012. The restaurant lost $352,000 in 2011.

Saanich has since opened a snack bar in place of the restaurant. The municipality says changes have helped reduce the overall deficit.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

In other news this week…

• 1988 – Saanich council OKs building a truck repair facility on Commerce Circle near the Vanalman Industrial Park, despite concerns that an oil leak could have detrimental impacts on the nearby Colquitz Creek. Then-alderman Frank Leonard is in the minority as an opponent of the project, saying the environmental risks and potential for noise pollution remain a major concern.

• 1991 – Saanich council looks at ways to mitigate the problems caused by the growing deer population. Council opposes the idea of entering the “deer removal business” and then-Mayor Murray Coell says he wants Saanich to “send a clear message that Bambi and Thumper and the whole gang are welcome.”

• 1995 – Fundraising by a parent group kicks off to raise money to build a second ice rink at Pearkes Recreation Centre. Parents say a lack of available ice time warrants another rink. Today, the two rinks at Pearkes are well-used, and Saanich says demand is being met – though most user groups vie for the highly sought-after 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. ice times.

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