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Greater Victoria school board approves land sale near Saanich school, creek

Section of former Richmond elementary site to sell for $2.5M to Victoria Hospice Society
Kevin Harter, CEO of the Victoria Hospice Society, says the organization’s plan for a portion of the former Richmond elementary school site includes improvements to Bowker Creek. The Greater Victoria School District board voted this week for a bylaw that allows for the sale of the property to Hospice. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Despite a shift in perspective by one trustee, the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) board approved selling a piece of land adjacent to the former Richmond elementary to Victoria Hospice Society.

During its March 14 meeting, SD61 approved the bylaw required to sell the back portion of 2780 Richmond Rd. to Victoria Hospice Society for $2.5 million.

The society hopes to build a new centre for grief support, education and end-of-life programs on the triangular piece of what SD61 calls the Lansdowne Middle School south campus.

RELATED: Victoria Hospice targets creek remediation plan ahead of potential land purchase

Trustees Ryan Painter, Jordan Watters, Elaine Leonard and Tom Ferris supported the move, while trustees Angie Hentze, Nicole Duncan and Ann Whiteaker were opposed.

Hentze previously supported the sale, but voiced a change of heart after hearing from the community and comparing green spaces in her neighbourhood in Saanich west, to the area adjacent to the land up for discussion. The trustee said she took for granted her views of Pkols (Mount Doug), and neighbourhood fields with Craigflower Creek running nearby.

“Having spent time walking through the neighbourhoods around Bowker Creek, I’ve discovered there is actually very little quality greenspace within walking distance in that community,” she said.

Hentze also cited climate change and that the plans put forward by Victoria Hospice for remediation don’t make up for building on the land that would not allow for a flood plain.

RELATED: Greater Victoria trustees’ suspensions result of disparaging Twitter comments, board chair says

“This land sale won’t and can’t help this budget,” she added.

Despite her opposition, the bylaw passed 4-3.

The board passed first two readings of the bylaw Jan. 24. Since then, trustees Diane McNally and Rob Paynter were censured by the board and suspended from their duties. Both voiced concerns and opposed the bylaw at that time.

The sale is subject to approval by the Ministry of Education.

RELATED: Neighbours oppose land sale near daylighted Saanich leg of Bowker Creek

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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