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School board land sale for Victoria Hospice clears first hurdles

Voices of opposition cite Bowker Creek health concerns
The Victoria Hospice Society hopes to build a new space for grief support, education and end-of-life programs on 1.9 acres off Richmond Road. (Courtesy SD61)

The proposed sale of land adjacent to Lansdowne Middle School in Saanich cleared a hurdle Monday.

During its Jan. 24 meeting, the school board narrowly approved the first two readings of a bylaw endorsing the sale of 1.9 acres at 2780 Richmond Rd. to Victoria Hospice for $2.5 million.

Representatives of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA) and the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) are among those who voiced opposition to the sale of the Lansdowne Middle School, South Campus, formerly Richmond elementary.

“We have concerns with the selling of school district property in any instance,” GVTA president Winona Waldron told the board. “School district property doesn’t come back and we have a growing district.”

Angela Carmichael, chair of VCPAC, said the organization and parents oppose the land sale on many levels, but primarily as it’s a known watershed. She asked the board not to move forward until she could meet with her membership, set for Tuesday, Jan. 25.

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

The protection and remediation of the daylighted segment of Bowker Creek that runs alongside the triangular piece of land has been a concern voiced by others in the community.

If the sale is approved, the property would be used as a new Centre of Excellence for Victoria Hospice, with space for expanded services including grief support, community education, and practical programs for people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and the bereaved.

A presentation early in the meeting by Kevin Harter, CEO of Victoria Hospice Society, outlined a design intent to protect and maintain Bowker Creek.

Some trustees hoped to defer voting on the bylaw to the February meeting, to gather more information on that presentation.

Trustee Nicole Duncan made a motion to defer voting on the bylaw until the February meeting, to ensure everyone had the opportunity to look at the proposed design. That motion failed ahead of the successful motion to move the sale forward.

Trustee Elaine Leonard noted the reason for space between readings is to allow for time and provides another month for information gathering.

Third reading of the bylaw is set for the Feb. 28 meeting of the school board.

Watch the full meeting online here.

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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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