A spokesperson for B.C. Hydro confirmed it is in discussions with the District of Saanich over a piece of surplus land appraised at $6 million.
Several groups have lobbied Saanich to purchase the surplus land between Kings Road and Haultain Street (affectionately nicknamed Kings Park) from the Crown corporation for the purpose of turning it into a public park — an agenda also favoured by mayor-elect Fred Haynes and several incumbents and incoming councillors.
“We are in discussions,” said Ted Olynyk, regional manager for community relations on Vancouver Island for B.C. Hydro, who declined to comment on the state of negotiations. “We have to respect the process.”
But he did share with the Saanich News that B.C. Hydro has internally assessed the value of the property at $6 million — a figure bound to raise some eyebrows.
Olynyk said in an interview BC Hydro must protect the financial interests of its ratepayers regardless of where they live in confirming earlier comments designed to temper down expectations of a discount for the District.
The Crown corporation entered discussions with Saanich after the provincial government, other Crown corporations and First Nations had declined their respective options to purchase the 5.5-acre property located in Saanich near its borders with Oak Bay and Victoria.
If Saanich and B.C. Hydro fail to reach an agreement, the property will become available on the open market.
A number of groups have called on Saanich to purchase the land for the purpose of turning it into a park after B.C Hydro had announced its plans to sell it, and mayor-elect Fred Haynes said earlier this month that he plans to make the transformation of the private land into a public park a top priority.
“Council needs to get its head around that,” he said. “I believe it’s a strong commitment to the future of Saanich, to have the opportunity for densification, balanced with green space in an appropriate way for our children’s children, so that 50 years from now, they can look back and be proud of this council.”
B.C. Hydro has owned the land for more than 60 years.
Its central core is zoned P2 for utility zone, which permits such things as an ambulance or fire hall, or underground pump station, while the street fronts along both Kings and Haultain are zoned for single-family lots, likely to fetch millions on the open market.