Rebecca Sterritt has been among the prominent supporters of plans to turn surplus land owned by the B.C. Hydro into a public park. (Submitted photo)

Saanich, B.C. Hydro remain silent over surplus land negotiations

Municipality wants to turn lot into a park

Saanich and BC Hydro continue to negotiate over land slated for public use, but both sides remain silent over details.

Ted Olynyk, regional manager for community relations on Vancouver Island for BC Hydro, said talks with Saanich over Kings Park — the informal name of land the utility owns between Kings Road and Haultain Street — continue.

But Olynyk said he could not discuss details, echoing Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who declined to answer a series of questions about the file.

BC Hydro considers the 5.5-acre property near the Oak Bay and Victoria border surplus and wants to sell it.

The Crown corporation entered discussions with Saanich after the provincial government, other Crown corporations and First Nations declined their respective options to purchase the land valued at $6 million. If Saanich and B.C. Hydro fail to reach an agreement, the property will enter the open market.

A number of groups have called on Saanich to purchase the land to turn it into a park and Haynes identified its transformation into a public park a top priority in echoing comparable calls from other members of council.

“Council needs to get its head around that,” he said on the day of his election. “I believe it’s a strong commitment to the future of Saanich, to have the opportunity for densification, balanced with green space in an appropriate way for our children’s children, so that 50 years from now, they can look back and be proud of this council.”

But if Saanich officials have expressed an eagerness to see a park in the area, officials with the utility have also tempered expectations.

Olynyk said in an interview that the utility must protect the financial interests of its ratepayers regardless of where they live in confirming earlier comments downplaying expectations of a discount for the District.


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