The future of walking trails on University of Victoria land near John Dean Provincial Park will be debated later this month in North Saanich.
Dates are tentative at this point, but UVic has floated Oct. 20 for an open house to discuss plans to sell the former Dunsmuir Lodge to Homewood Health, and an additional 74 acres to the Pauquachin First Nation.
The latter sale has created concern in the community over the potential loss of a popular walking trail, used by residents and students from the nearby KELSET Elementary School. Pauquachin Chief Rebecca Harris has said part of the negotiations with UVic includes closing off general public access to land they consider culturally and spiritually significant.
In recent weeks, people have been waiting on news of a public meeting on the details of the sale negotiations and many attended the Oct. 3 North Saanich council meeting, seeking answers.
Laura Vessey, representing a group of trail users, told council their request for further discussion on the matter is “not unreasonable.” She added a recent map in the News Review was too small to read and could mislead some people as to the scope of the trail changes.
North Saanich staff pointed out the Oct. 20 date is not yet set and could change — that’s up to UVic.
The district itself would be required to rezone the land to allow Ontario-based Homewood Health to run an addictions treatment centre. That requires a public hearing, which would allow residents to further express opinions on trail and land use.
Staff said a public hearing would occur after the university’s open house, potentially in late November.