Crosby

Neighbours fear losing field to a community garden

The idea of a community garden on a parcel of land behind Saanich Commonwealth Place doesn't sit well for some area residents.

The idea of a community garden on a parcel of land behind Saanich Commonwealth Place doesn’t sit well for some area residents.

It’s not the garden they take issue with, it’s the idea that a field used regularly by hundreds of people for outdoor sports and fitness activities will be dug up and fenced for used by a relatively small number of gardeners.

“I’m a gardener, I encourage community gardens, but they need to be in the right place,” said Dave Marecek, who lives on Caselton Place. “This is our our green space, it’s where we meet as neighbours, it’s our community field because (designated parkland) wasn’t put in our area. Now they’re going to take it away and we’ll have nothing.”

In November, Saanich announced it will create two new community allotment gardens in the municipality – one behind Commonwealth Place and one along the Gorge Waterway. Marecek said his biggest frustration is the announcement came without consultation and that he and his neighbours will lose the green space.

Property developers gave the land, referred to as the SCP Expansion Area in planning reports, to the municipality in 2002 as part of the deal to build Caselton Place. “The developers have also agreed to give 1.6 hectares of property behind Saanich Commonwealth Place to Saanich for parkland,” says a News article from August 2002.

“The person who developed Caselton Place and donated it to Saanich had a commitment from Saanich it would always be greenspace,” Marecek claimed.

But that’s not how Mayor Frank Leonard remembers it. “(The land) was acquired for surplus parking,” he said. “That was the original motivation to get it.”

Planning reports for Caselton Place from the District of Saanich appear to corroborate Leonard’s memory.

“The SCP Expansion Area will provide surface parking for future floor space expansion to SCP, stormwater management, open space for passive and unrestricted recreation,” reads a rezoning application dated July 10, 2002. There’s also an attached map that details how much of the land was to be used for a 150-car parking lot.

Doug Henderson, director of parks and recreation, said the differing understanding of under what pretenses that land was given stems from the donated property being larger than just the field.

“When you cut it in half, the north portion is the hilly treed area. That was identified for green space and unstructured activities. It’s the southern half that was identified for potential parking expansion or facility expansion. It’s that portion that is being looking at to use a part of for a community garden,” Henderson said.

Leonard is aware of the current opposition to building an allotment garden behind Commonwealth Place, and says those opposed will have a chance to voice their concerns before council.

He points to a proposal from the early or mid-2000s that would’ve put a community garden in Houlihan Park in Gordon Head. Neighbours vehemently opposed the plan, and council rejected it.

“I’ve seen council turn down community gardens before. It’s still a public process, so the outcome’s not known,” the mayor said.

Marecek says he feels as if Saanich isn’t “taking into account the needs of the citizens. They’re not taking into account the needs of the community.”

“They’re going to take away a space that’s used by 150 people a week for 13 gardeners? I’m so baffled why Saanich would have this single-mindedness at no matter what cost to the community,” Marecek said. “When people use (the land) for outdoor activities, that’s a great thing in today’s era.”

To provide input on the proposed community garden behind Commonwealth Place, visit saanich.ca/scpgardens. The survey will be available until Friday (Feb. 22).

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Saanich jam stand at the centre of controversy prepares to close

Staff review of roadside stand legislation too late for Little

Convicted drug trafficker asks Victoria courtroom for chance to ‘turn this around’

Horst Schirmer sentenced for convictions on five counts of possession related to trafficking

$11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

The project has been delayed multiple times and is now estimating a budget of $96 million

Alzheimer Society calls for helpline volunteers in Greater Victoria

Charity is in ‘urgent need’ as calls on the rise

Pipeline protestors plan march as Trudeau gives Trans Mountain the go-ahead,

20 kilometre march to protest the pipeline starts in Victoria, ends on Saanich Peninsula

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Most Read