B.C. Hydro owns a tract of land that is bordered on the west side by Bowker Creek, and runs between Kings Road and Haultain Street. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Still no plans for B.C. Hydro land between Haultain and Kings

Hydro Park features a forest path, short cuts and a hidden rope swing

The tract of unused B.C. Hydro land between Haultain Street and Kings Road is not a park, it’s just been treated like one for more than 60 years.

The land is bordered on the west side by fast-flowing Bowker Creek and a uniform stand of trees that follow a well-used path along the creek. Some consider it a dog park. Essentially it is a dog park. Officially, it isn’t, however, and there is a growing concern about exactly what the land might be used for if, in fact, BC Hydro plans to offload the land.

Rumours abound that the land has been sold. One Facebook reader said it was sold to a local Victoria developer. Ted Olynyk, the community relations manager for BC Hydro on Vancouver Island, had to laugh when he was recently told it had been sold to a developer in Vancouver.

However, there is no such plan to date, said Olynyk.

“It’s essentially private property that’s been left un-fenced since the 1950s,” Olynyk said. “It’s not a park. It was bought as part of our future planning process to help meet future growth in the area. It’s been kept by BC Hydro with the possibility of putting up a substation there.”

BC Hydro revisits its land assets annually and as of 2017, there are no plans for the Haultain plot to be a substation. It is also not on the open market. However, there have been past inquiries and proposals made to B.C. Hydro about the land. About 10 years ago, B.C. Ambulance Services inquired about leasing part of the land, which is zoned for institutional use. That never went through.

Therefore, locals who’ve spent a lifetime cutting through the land can be forgiven if they were unaware that it is not a park. BC Hydro even spends money to maintain it, cutting the grass.

“When people find out it’s not protected, that it’s not a park, they are surprised,” said Caleb Horn, former vice-president of Camosun Community Association. “When we were doing our community envisioning for the CCA, that land was identified as of great importance to the locals.”

Many people in nearby Oak Bay also consider the land as an important greenspace, including Coun. Michelle Kirby.

“First and foremost I hope it remains a greenspace and that whatever happens, it respects the 100-year Bowker Creek plan,” Kirby said. “We want to retain the goal of seeing salmon return to the creek.”

However, the region is in a housing crisis, so it wouldn’t be ‘so terrible’ if it was sold for development, though it would be really hard for the neighbourhood to accept it as anything other than a park, Kirby said.

“It’s not an empty space that isn’t used, it’s well used, it meets all the criteria in my mind as something to be acquired as parkland.”

Internet chat forums past (Reddit), and present (Facebook) show there is a long history of use for the greenspace. Teens once referred to it as the Hydro Park, a place to drink booze in the 1970s and waste away the afternoon using the rope swing over Bowker Creek.

If B.C. Hydro ever does consider the land as surplus, it would follow a Crown process where other Crown corporations would have access to the land first. After that, it’s uncertain if Saanich or the CRD could purchase the land, through the CRD land acquisition fund.

If it was sold it would have to be at a price acceptable to B.C. Hydro, Olynyk said.

“B.C. Hydro is held accountable by a [province worth] of ratepayers who would want market value,” Olynyk said.

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

Rope swings have hung (on and off) over Bowker Creek since the 1970s in a hidden section of the creek near Richmond Avenue. Travis Paterson/News Staff

A house on the B.C. Hydro land between Haultain and Kings. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Just Posted

Iconic Mount Douglas beach rock vandalized with graffiti image

Saanich Parks staff will try to remove at low tide

Victoria-area orthotist giving dogs a new leash on life

Since he started 10 months ago, Tim Witoski has supplied orthotics for some 25 dogs

2 people injured after assault in Centennial Square

Victoria Police have not said how the two are related, or if any other suspects are involved

North Saanich roundabouts get new landscaping

McTavish Interchange landscaping cheaper, still safe

Complaint filed against B.C. naturopath who treated boy with rabid dog saliva

BC Naturopathic Association questions Dr. Anke Zimmermann’s conduct on recent treatments

Manak calls Const. Ian Jordan fallen hero

Late Victoria cop mourned at funeral by officers from numerous local, out-of-town jurisdictions

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

Camosun launches cannabis training courses

Growing Cannabis for Professionals is available online through continuing education

Cars lined up around the block as gas hits 109.9 in B.C. city

The gas wars continue in Vernon, B.C. with prices as low as $109.9 in North Okanagan

Trudeau ends 3-country tour with global reputation, alliances intact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds footing on the world stage after China and India controversies

Province’s $6.5M will help women escape violence, Public Safety Minister announces

Mike Farnworth made the funding announcement in Surrey Friday morning

Trial for gangland slaying of Jonathan Bacon takes a turn

Charges for three men charged in the 2011 murder of B.C. gangster Jonathan Bacon have changed

Leafs’ Matthews has top-selling jersey, edging Crosby, McDavid: NHL

Austin Matthews jersey sales top Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid

Victims grant may miss needy parents due to eligibility rules: report

Only 29 of 50 applicants between 2013 and 2017 received the grant across Canada, a federal report says

Most Read