Residents of North Saanich Monday will have a chance to comment on plans that could lead to a library near Panorama Recreation Centre.
The public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. will consider two related items: the municipality’s application to exclude almost 16 acres of the Panorama Recreation Centre lot from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and proposed changes to the Official Community Plan (OCP) as required by the proposed exclusion.
The municipality has long proposed building a library on a portion of the recreation centre site, plans that suffered a set back in the spring of 2019 when the ALC rejected the municipality’s application for non-farm use on the site. But in that ruling, the commission also signalled its willingness to consider an exclusion application. Previous plans had identified the northwest corner (the proposed exclusion site) of the current recreation centre as the preferred location for the new library.
If the ALC approves the exclusion following Monday’s public hearing, the municipality would then be able to subdivide the lot from the parent lot, thereby allowing the establishment of the library on a separate, transferable title of land.
The proposed OCP amendments in turn would increase the flexibility of the municipality on the site for what it calls “future recreational or cultural development,” language that highlights a larger point about North Saanich’s intentions.
While the municipality has pursued plans for a library complementing “existing community facilities” on the site and accessible to residents of North Saanich, Sidney, and Central Saanich alike, it appears that it also wants to keep its options open, free after former Canadian prime minister William Lyon McKenzie King: a library if necessary, but not necessarily a library.
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