The fate of the northern half of David Foster Way is up in the air, as Transport Canada looks to sell off several of its remaining parcels of land on Victoria’s Upper Harbour.
Ten years ago, the federal body started divesting its land holdings. Today, it retains only about 10 per cent. Many of the remaining properties line the waterfront between the Johnson Street Bridge and Bay Street Bridge.
“These properties have been built up and landscaped,” said Transport Canada spokesperson Rod Nelson. “(We are) planning to contact the upland owners to determine their interest in acquiring those properties.”
The sale of two of its parcels has already been finalized. Last week, Reliance Properties announced it had purchased a lot behind the Janion Building on Store Street, which the company plans to redevelop. It sold for $675,000.
Transport Canada also announced an agreement to transfer land at Barclay Point in Rock Bay to the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations for $2.8 million.
The City of Victoria has an interest in the future of the remaining federal properties, insofar as it wants to maintain a public walkway along the shoreline.
In late May, the city honoured David Foster by naming the harbour walkway after the world-famous music producer. The walkway runs from Ogden Point to the Johnson Street bridge, but the city aims to continue the path northward to the Bay Street Bridge.
Transport Canada has pledged to consider the city’s interests as it moves forward. “The department is working with the City of Victoria to preserve public access to existing walkways around the harbour,” Nelson confirmed.
“We’re comforted by those statements,” said Mayor Dean Fortin.
“We don’t have a concern so much (with) ownership (of the land), we just want to make sure that the appropriate zoning is in place.”
Because municipal zoning does not apply to federal land, city staff plan to review the zoning in place along the foreshore, ideally before any land is purchased by private interests.
Transport Canada is selling one final piece of property inland from the shore. For sale is a triangular 0.24-hectare lot at 202 Harbour Rd., located at the junction with Esquimalt Road.
Pemberton Holmes has the property listed at $2.3 million.
Two high-profile lots, Laurel Point Park, which surrounds the Laurel Point Inn; and Laurel Point Pond, will not be changing hands for now. Transport Canada has determined those parcels of land have high levels of contamination.
It is exploring environmental management options for those sites before it will consider any land transfers.