The District of Central Saanich entered into a conditional land sale and donation agreement to acquire 25 acres of land in Maber Flats last week.
The land, which would be used to construct an agricultural drainage facility in the Hagan-Graham watershed, is currently owned by Brentwood Developments Ltd. No land would be removed from the ALR in the deal which the District said would improve flood control, water quality and stream health.
“Over the last few years, the District has successfully implemented channel improvements to Graham Creek south of Centennial Park,” said Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson.
“The creation of a detention facility in this area is the next priority in implementing the District’s award-winning Integrated Stormwater Management Plan.”
An earlier concept of the project included a partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to create a wetland area and nature reserve, however, Bryson continued, the current agreement is just between the District and Brentwood Developments Ltd.
“I understand that District staff are still in discussions with the Nature Conservancy to see what, if any role they might have in the future, but there’s no undertakings at this time,” Bryson explained.
The deal between the District and the property owner also stipulates that a covenant be put on the ALR land to ensure that there can be no residential construction or subdivision.
Consultation on the project will take place between the Tsartlip and Tsawout First Nations, as well as with the Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Peninsula Agricultural Committee, the Healthy Watershed Committee and the Advisory Planning Committee.
A public open house for the project is also scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 10 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Municipal Hall (1903 Mount Newton X Rd.)
“The conditional purchase agreement enables the District to seek the public’s input and consult with the relevant advisory committees before making a final decision,” said Bryson.
“Since the land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, for the project to proceed, it will be important that Council and the Agricultural Land Commission are satisfied that the proposed works and drainage will enhance the overall agricultural capability of the valley,” he said, adding that once all the consultation is complete, the District will decide if they will sign the final agreement in the late fall.
A donation by Brentwood Developments Ltd. could reduce the purchase price of the land by 10 per cent from the independently appraised value of $1.17 million.
The District said the purchase would be funded through reserves and accumulated surplus and that no new property taxes would be levied to support the purchase.