Saanich as your landlord

The municipality regularly purchases – and rents out – houses as part of long-term planning for future roads or parks.

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary executive director

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary executive director

Most Saanich residents only contact municipal hall when it’s time to pay property taxes or the family dog needs licensing. There are a handful of Saanichites, however, who call the municipality when the refrigerator is on the fritz.

Saanich currently owns and rents out 13 houses around the municipality.

These homes – which will eventually be torn down – are on properties that Saanich purchased in recent years with the intent to eventually use the land as part of a larger park or road-widening project.

“We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember,” said Mayor Frank Leonard. “It’s based on a willing buyer, willing seller policy. When we identify several homes that we would like to convert to either park or road, we don’t go down the street and simply force the purchase. We approach the homeowners and say ‘If and when you’d like to sell, we’d like to be the first in line.’

“Some people say ‘sure,’ and some people say, ‘go away,’ and we wait for it to go on the market. As a result you end up with a patchwork. We wait to complete all acquisitions until we make a conversion to park or roadway, so in the meantime we rent the houses out.”

Richard Butler, who works in Saanich’s lands department, fields all the calls from tenants of the municipality when and if there’s an issue. He’s also the one who posts to UsedVictoria advertising the homes for rent at market rate.

Leonard points to Rutledge Park, and McKenzie Avenue between Blenkinsop and Borden as sites where the municipality successfully acquired the homes needed to complete a park or road project.

“We’re not doing as much of the purchasing now. The Shelbourne Valley Action Plan could lead to that sort of approach, potentially,” he said. “It’s a fairly narrow right of way there, right now. The plans could suggest we need more roadway, so we could do there what we did along McKenzie.”

Coun. Vicki Sanders points to Gorge Road as proof of Saanich’s foresight when acquiring land as part of a long-term vision.

“The whole Gorge Waterway was Saanich acquiring properties – that goes back to the ‘60s. It’s really a visionary thing Saanich has done; identifying properties for these opportunities and acquiring them as they come up,” she said.

“We can be very patient,” Leonard added, when referring to a campaign promise he made in 1996 to expand Gorge Park from Admiral’s Road to Tillicum Road. “We just continued buying homes and we only finished the demolitions in the past couple years.”

Of the 13 homes Saanich currently rents out, most are slated for future parkland. While they’re located throughout the municipality – from Cadboro Bay to Prospect Lake – there are some neighbouring properties on Roy Road and Hyacinth Avenue currently in Saanich’s possession.

The mayor says the willing buyer, willing seller policy is crucial, as he does not support expropriation. Hence the mindset that patience is a virtue.

“To expropriate someone’s home is pretty extreme, in my view. … And courts don’t look kindly on government taking people’s homes,” he said. “We try to be a respectful government, and not a heavy-handed government.”

For a few years Saanich rented out a home on Ralph Street, near the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. That changed in June 2012, when the municipality passed ownership of that house to the nature sanctuary.

“(Having this house in our possession) gives us a huge opportunity for giving back to the community in a different way,” said Barry Janyk, executive director of the sanctuary. “By having it become a part of our system, our administration, it helps to provide the longevity, the sustainability of Swan Lake.”

Renovations are currently underway at the Ralph Street house, with occupancy – Swan Lake office space and tenancy from the Garry Oak Ecological Recovery Team – expected in early May.

While the money to buy the lands typically comes from Saanich’s parks budget or development cost charges, rent money that comes in to Saanich goes to the land sales reserve fund.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read