Letter: Potential fate of Gonzales lot leaves frequent visitor in shock

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To whom it may concern (Victoria council and Board of Variance, Oak Bay council, CRD and local media)

I am in shock after hearing the probable fate of Gonzales Hill, a beloved destination for me. I live in Saanich, but am often in Victoria and Oak Bay enjoying our little patchwork of green spaces. Over the years I have seen development creep up the hills, and to the shores – Moss Rock, Christmas Hill and Glencoe Cove. Compare yesterday’s snapshot with today’s.

I assumed that all the open land around the observatory comprised Gonzales Hill Regional Park, but a large chunk is privately owned and up for development. This is vital Garry oak habitat — of which only five per cent remains. The rock and trees virtually define our natural landscape. This park hosts wildlife, and it’s a place for folks to appreciate this wildlife, fresh air, and breathtaking views. (And how sadly ironic that the observatory now houses the Land Conservancy of BC). I heard the CRD could have purchased the lot a few years ago, but didn’t. I am incredulous, since it had the funds. But not the foresight or will.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell was recently quoted as saying the municipality cannot police private property in any practical way. But it must. We work to police activity in privately owned Amazon rainforest. Why should it be any different here? I implore local government to curtail development. If it’s too late, then it must severely restrict size, and guarantee minimal damage to the beautiful rocky terrain, trees and views. But I am 100 per cent against this property being developed. Anything less than its acquisition as additional park land will signify failure of our local government.

Carolyn Affleck

Saanich

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