By a vote of 4 to 3, the Greater Victoria School Board (SD61) has approved the $2.5 million sale of over an acre of land to the Victoria Hospice Society.
The triangular-shaped property, found along Richmond Road, is adjacent to the south campus of Lansdowne Middle School and next to Bowker Creek.
Pending final approval from the Ministry of Education, proceeds from the sale will be used to renovate and replace existing schools in the district, according to SD61.
Hospice plans to use 1.28 acres of the property to develop a new home for its services, while the remaining lands will be used to improve the nearby creek—which includes widening the stream by four metres.
But it’s a sale sparking worry in some locals. Through public engagement, SD61 heard “strong advocacy” from both those in support and those opposed, citing concern over the health of the Bowker Creek watershed.
“It was a challenging decision for our board to make, but we have found a partner who is truly committed to rehabilitating the creek and making site improvements that will benefit the community,” said Board Chair Ryan Painter.
Monday’s board meeting saw seven trustees vote—with Ryan Painter, Tom Ferris, Elaine Leonard and Jordan Watters in support of the sale, while Nicole Duncan, Angie Hentze and Ann Whiteaker were opposed.
Trustees Diane McNally and Rob Paynter weren’t in attendance. Last month, the two were barred from their duties until October following bullying and harassment complaints.
Still, Paynter chimed in on the board’s decision to sell, tweeting: “And with that 4 votes to 3, SD61 sells off another piece of itself for dubious reasons. Two more trustees voting against the sale would have made this difference, just saying…”
And with that 4 votes to 3, #sd61 sells off another piece of itself for dubious reasons. 2 more trustees voting against the sale would have made this difference, just saying… #Judicialreview! @sd61schools
— Rob Paynter (@RobPaynterSD61) March 15, 2022
According to Victoria Hospice CEO Kevin Harter, after approval from the Ministry of Education, in-depth feasibility work will be conducted over 90 days.
“It’s still a long road ahead, but we are cautiously optimistic about this ideal site for a new home for Victoria Hospice,” added Harter.
Victoria Hospice Society will now commence the land-use approval and corresponding public engagement processes required by the District of Saanich to advance its plans for the property.