Metchosin Mayor John Ranns (Courtesy District of Metchosin)

Metchosin mayor fuming over subdivision proposal

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria tight-lipped on land plans

The spectre of a subdivision springing up on a large chunk of the Boys and Girls Club’s property in Metchosin has raised the ire of mayor and residents.

“Frankly, I’m quite pissed off,” said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns. “We have been giving them tax-exempt status for the past 17 years, and our understanding has always been that the property would remain in its entirety. I question their ability to fulfill their mandate without that wooded portion of the property. We’ll be looking at the tax-exempt status through a completely different lens when it comes before council.”

The 98-acre property off of Metchosin Road was loaned to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria (BGCV) by the provincial government to use as a camp and for outdoor programs in 1984. BGCV exercised its right of first refusal and purchased the property from the province for $1.6 million in 2004. The mortgage was paid off in 2011 through a variety of fundraising initiatives and donations.

Ranns said under Metchosin’s land-use bylaw, the 40-acre portion in question is a legal subdivision and does not require rezoning or provisions for amenities.

Metchosin has a contractor that handles these matters, and subdivisions like this go straight to the approving officer, Ranns explained. “Council is not allowed to influence the approving officer.”

Metchosin resident Bev Bacon, who lives near the property, said she contacted the BCGV and the organization’s head office for more information on what their plans are for the property, and received a response on Jan. 5 from Carrie Wagner-Miller, regional director for the western region of Boys and Girls Club Canada.

READ ALSO: Bear breaks into Metchosin car, leaves stench, mess behind

“We have reached out to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Victoria and are aware that they working with Devencore, a commercial real estate firm,” Wagner-Miller said in an email. “At this time, the club has been advised to have all communication regarding the land go through Griffin Lewis from Devencore, whom I have copied on this email.”

Lewis said in an email to Bacon that “The foundation and B&GC board and senior management have decided (based upon advice from me) that they will have no comment or discussion about their property until the subdivision application and process is complete. As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s best to wait until all the variables and requirements from the district are understood before they can speak to what their plans are.”

Dalyce Dixon, executive director for BGCV, declined to provide comment to the Gazette and referred all inquiries to Lewis. Lewis emailed the same response to the Gazette as the one sent to Bacon.

Bacon decried the lack of information and transparency, and questions why a real estate company is handling communication for a non-profit.

“I don’t think a real estate broker is the best person to do damage control on the Boys and Girls Club brand,” she said.

“As I recall, the Boys and Girls Club got the land for a favourable price because they were cash poor and trying to provide a public service to introduce children to lush forests and environmental engagement.”

The organization’s financial statement for 2020 doesn’t appear to show any financial difficulties, Bacon noted. “If they can’t operate without selling environmentally sensitive land, they should find alternate funding. The land should be kept as it is for its environmental values. A non-profit generating a profit from a real estate sale is not right, not fair, not environmentally sound and looks really really bad. The land should be kept intact for its environmental values. In the absence of an explanation or plan from the organization, how can the public judge whether or not they have been bilked?”

Jay Shukin, president of the Association for the Rural Protection of Metchosin (APRM), said the land has two great attributes.

READ ALSO: Couple’s long battle with Saanich over a $300,000 storm drain ends with a win

“It’s a wonderful natural area with mature forests, Garry oak meadows and a pond that’s habitat for Western Painted Turtles,” Shukin said. “Second, it serves as a resource for youth in the broader community. Any funds generated by the subdivision or sale of the property will be a short-term solution that will create a significant long-term gap in regional youth programming options. It’s a rare and perhaps irreplaceable asset for youth programs based on outdoor recreation and nature immersion.”

Shukin also noted that the BGCV obtained the land from the provincial government in 2004 “under very favourable terms,” and the organization has received more than $300,000 in tax exemptions in the past 10 years. “That has led to the perception by local residents that the land would be preserved for public benefit, specifically outdoor youth recreation and education programs.

“We would like the Boys and Girls Club to put a pause on their subdivision plans and have them sit down with the APRM and other community organizations to help us better understand the club’s intentions with the land. We want to discuss how their plans fit into their mission of serving youth in Greater Victoria.”

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

District of Metchosin

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

Sidney has moved the remaining parts of its public consultation phase part of the Official Community Plan online. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney moves to an ‘all online engagement’ process for OCP

Staff says OCP charrette scheduled for mid-February

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

The large metal gate stolen from Muddy Valley Farm in rural Saanich on Jan. 18 reappeared less than a week later. (Muddy Valley Farm/Facebook)
Large metal gate stolen from Saanich farm makes mysterious reappearance

12-foot gate returned to Muddy Valley Farm less than a week after it was stolen

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read