Jan Elliott, Roger Graham, Harv Haakonson and Donna Cino in their backyard, the former Royal Oak Golf Course. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Jan Elliott, Roger Graham, Harv Haakonson and Donna Cino in their backyard, the former Royal Oak Golf Course. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Opposing views clash over removal of Royal Oak Golf Course from ALR

Golf course not ideal for farming, says report

A group of residents along Marsett Place in Saanich remain adamant that the former Royal Oak Golf Course that they live next to be left as a park, if not a farm.

“We want it in the [Agricultural Land Reserve] for many reasons,” said Roger Graham, who lives on Marsett. “We view the ALR seriously, for food security, and believe this land should be preserved.”

The current owners of the 27-acre property – 23 of which are in the ALR – have submitted an application to the District of Saanich to recommend the Agricultural Land Commission remove it from the ALR so it can be pursued for development purposes. Word is the application could come before Saanich council before the Oct. 20 election.

Another Marsett resident, Donna Cino, started an online petition that now has 1,100 signatures to support the property staying in the ALR and said there is an overwhelming opposition in the neighbourhood to taking the property out of the ALR.

Cino remembers the dairy farm that preceded the Royal Oak Golf Course from her youth.

“ALR benefits go beyond farming, it includes biodiversity and the grounds of the golf course are recovering with flora, such as the camas coming back, and with wildlife,” Cino said.

Numbered company 1122590 B.C. Ltd. purchased the property for a reported $3.5 million in 2017, which includes local figure Denis Mamic. The company hired Ross Blackwell of the Cowichan Valley to assess the agricultural ability of the land.

Blackwell said not only is the soil “heavily cemented” but it’s not ideal to farm land immediately adjacent to residential density.

“Situationally, it’s a poor place to do agriculture,” Blackwell said.

Anyone farming there would anticipate theft, trespassing, damage and neighbourhood complaints about noises and smells, he added. “Farmers have a hard time dealing with these items.”

By cemented, Blackwell is referring to the dense, binding nature of the soil, not that it has actual cement in it. The golf course had a tremendous amount of fill, much of which he understands came from when the Royal Oak shopping centre was excavated.

“The land has exposed rock out-cropping that cuts the property up into chunks and disconnected bits which is hard to farm,” Blackwell said. “Even discounting the quality of the soil, once you combine the things with the constraints to agricultural suitability and it’s a poor piece of land for agricultural ability, that’s the finding of the report.

“Put it this way… if someone came to the ALR and wanted to include it, what’s the likelihood they’d say yes? I’d say unlikely due to the above reasons. It’s not part of a farming area, it’s part of an urban growth area.”

In fact, the old golf course is one of a few ALR plots remaining that were noted in the 2001 Royal Oak local area plan as isolated from other ALR in Saanich.

That includes the land that houses Wildwood Outdoor Living (formerly Cannor Nursery), which evolved from farm, to farmgate, to nursery to nursery/outdoor living store, and no longer “reflects” ALR usage. Saanich recognized that plot for future ALR removal as far back as 1993.

In 1989, the land housing Saanich Commonwealth Place, which borders the golf course, was also removed from ALR.

Despite Blackwell’s report the ALC has shown, at least recently, little interest in releasing properties from the ALR, though each property is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Victoria police are asking for help locating Izabel Villeneuve, 14, who was last seen Jan. 19. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seek help locating missing 14-year-old

Izabel Villeneuve was last seen in the morning of Jan. 19

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Vancouver Island this weekend

Snow on Malahat to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us – maybe

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

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

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Most Read