Youth team Anna Erickson, Calla McRae, Lucy Erickson, Charlotte Erickson and Megan McKlusky Rebecca Sterritt address a crowd of hundreds on the former hydro lands between Haultain Street and Kings Road on Saturday during the fundraising rally. (Save Kings Park Photo)

Hundreds gather at fundraising kickoff for ‘Kings Park’ purchase

Campaign to raise $2.75 million for the District of Saanich underway

The fundraising campaign is officially underway to ensure the entirety of Saanich’s purchase of the former 5.5-acre BC Hydro land becomes one big park.

Colloquially known as Kings Park, Saanich purchased the surplus BC Hydro land between Kings Road and Haultain Street for $5.5 million this year but is seeking to raise an additional $2.75 million in funding from the public.

The land has long acted as a community path and green space and hosts one of the only daylit sections of Bowker Creek.

On Saturday, more than 300 people showed up, including five of the eight Saanich councillors, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Minister of Education and local MLA Rob Fleming, federal NDP candidate and Victoria Coun. (on leave) Laurel Collins, as well as representatives from the Camosun Community Association, Friends of Bowker Creek Society and the Saanich Legacy Foundation.

READ MORE: How Kings Park hydro land narrowly missed becoming a 500-car parking lot

READ ALSO: Mayor interested in upgrading unused land behind Hospital that connects to Kings Park

“Saturday’s event generated a ton of positive energy,” said Adam Kreek, who is part of the Save Kings Park initiative with his wife Rebecca Sterritt. “We have a lot of gratitude for the community.”

The money is due in August 2020. The deal in place is that if Saanich council and the community are unable to raise the $2.75 million to offset the incurred debt, Saanich will sell a portion of the property to recuperate some of the cost.

Donations are now coming in, though the heavy lifting is still to come, Kreek said.

Abstract Developments donated $10,000. The Friends of Bowker Creek donated $750. One youth donated $18 from money raised on the day.

“It’s still early,” Kreek said. “The energy generated is most important here.”

Just this week Saanich council approved the six-person fundraising campaign team of Haynes, Couns. Colin Plant and Nathalie Chambers, Saanich Legacy Foundation’s Paul McKivett, Save Kings Park’s Rebecca Sterritt and Julian Lum from the Canadian Cancer Society. They will meet regularly with Saanich staff, the latter will be responsible for drafting up the ultimate proposal to the CRD, which will be a key piece of the fundraising.

“The joke on Saturday was that so many people one block away from Oak Bay, and from across the street in Victoria, and we’d say, ‘thanks for coming all the way to Saanich,’” Kreek said. “Because the reality is residents from all three municipalities use this park.”

The ultimate vision is to upgrade the Kings Park pathway and to also improve the pathway that it connects to the south side of Haultain (which is owned by the Island Catholic School Diocese).

The parcel is listed as 1843 and 1845 Kings Rd. and also at 2661 Richmond Rd., where there is a small trail access that is currently being remediated by a Saanich public works crew.

READ MORE: Saanich in agreement to purchase Kings Road hydro land for $5.5 million

READ MORE: Still no plans for BC Hydro land between Haultain and Kings streets

“It’s the little things from each of us little people that will save this natural space,” Kreek said. “It’s a lot of little things, 2.7 million little things, but at the end of the day, people are standing up for this park.

“There was some hopelessness and despondency before the event but now, it’s a different energy. We are united.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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