Saanich residents attempting to raise $2.75 million to save Kings Park get nine more months to secure the funds.
At the request of the Saanich Legacy Foundation, Mayor Fred Haynes asked council to extend the fundraising deadline to save the 2.2-hectare lot between Kings Road and Haultain Street. Given the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on community fundraising and advocacy activities, he asked that the original deadline of Aug. 31 be extended to March 31, 2021.
On June 22, council voted unanimously to support the motion.
“When we first created this process to fundraise and we had deadlines, the world was a very different place,” said Coun. Karen Harper at the council meeting. “… The time we have all isolating is time that has not been possible to do any fundraising.”
The municipality bought the land from B.C. Hydro in 2019 for $5.5 million. The District also announced that $2.75 million would need to be fundraised by August 2020, to offset the cost of the park as Saanich borrowed $4 million for the purchase. Otherwise, portions of the lot would need to be sold.
On June 10, volunteers with the Saanich Legacy Foundation wrote to the municipality asking for a deadline extension to Dec. 31, 2021.
In the letter, organizers Rebecca Sterritt, Julian Lum and Paul McKivett explained that the ban on large gatherings had impacted fundraising events, grant applications have been delayed and those who have funds to give are assisting other “worthwhile campaigns” to help those facing the financial impacts of the pandemic.
After a discussion, Haynes said he and the volunteers agreed on a March 31, 2021 deadline, the end of the District’s fiscal year.
Sterritt told Black Press Media that the volunteer Kings Park advocates have continued to do small-scale fundraising but that it’s been difficult with social distancing protocols and people’s current discomfort with in-person meetings. The group plans to reschedule large fundraising events and resume canvassing when possible.
Sterritt said as long as the volunteers can “hit the ground running in September,” she’s certain they’ll raise the required funds by the new deadline unless a second wave of COVID-19 hits in the fall.
– With files from Kendra Crighton.