A new park will be coming to Saanich in 2021, thanks to a partner agreement between the CRD and the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) for a 20 hectare land purchase.
The property is located just southeast of Prospect Lake, off of Interurban Road, and is currently known as the “Mountain Road Forest.”
Colin Plant, Board Chair of the CRD, says that the property owners have been generously allowing people to enter the land for decades.
“While we’re not encouraging people to go out there today, we acknowledge that in many ways this is already a de facto park,” he said in an interview with Victoria Buzz.
“But, had the CRD and HAT not come together to make this offer, it could have been put forward for development, and the opportunity may have been lost.”
Plant added that because of the land’s informal use by locals as a natural leisure area, there is an established trail network that makes it well-suited to park use.
The CRD will be contributing $2 million towards the land acquisition, with the remainder of the cost being funded through community fundraising coordinated by HAT and a $200,000 discount from the land’s current owner.
HAT has committed to raising $1.2 million to complete the purchase of the property, for a total value of $3.4 million.
CRD described the property as an example of mature second-growth Coastal Douglas-fir forests, along with Garry oak meadow, rock outcrop, and arbutus stands.
At-risk species such as the Western Screech-Owl and Common Nighthawk are known to have bred on the property, and a spring-fed stream that intersects the land is part of the headwaters of the Colquitz River system.
“This is not going to become a recreation-based park,” said Plant. “It will be more of an ecological preservation park.”
HAT and CRD are working towards an informal deadline of April 22, 2021, to complete the park purchase. It’s an auspicious day, according to Plant, as it coincides with Earth Day.
“I think that would be a wonderful Earth Day gift for the region,” said Plant. “To have the announcement of the permanent securing of this property as a public green space.”