Public submissions for today’s public hearing shows what can be described as overwhelming opposition to the plans that could lead to a new library near Panorama Recreation Centre. (Black Press Media File)

Public submissions for today’s public hearing shows what can be described as overwhelming opposition to the plans that could lead to a new library near Panorama Recreation Centre. (Black Press Media File)

Public submissions show large opposition to library plans in North Saanich

Councillors will hold a public hearing today

Public input shows opposition to a proposal by North Saanich for a new library near Panorama Recreation Centre.

As North Saanich councillors prepare for tonight’s public hearing, submissions from the public available on the municipality’s website show opposing opinions outweighing supporting opinions by a factor of 9-1 with three letters in favour, the rest opposed. By way of background, Monday’s public hearing 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 for the proposed exclusion.

The municipality has long proposed building a library on a portion of the recreation centre site, plans that suffered a setback 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.

RELATED: North Saanich residents to comment on library plans

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 gives some the municipality some wiggle room about future uses.

Opponents, for their part, have denounced the proposed exclusion as “frivolous” and “irresponsible” against the backdrop of limited ALR land as Chris Connor put it. “It may not be used for it right now in this decade, but its in the ALR for a reason,” he said in his letter.

Others have expressed the fear that development of the site would lead to the loss of trees and impact the nearby Eric Sherwood Trial running from Forest Park Drive south along the western portion of the property to East Saanich Road at the property’s southeastern corner. The short but popular trail bears the name of North Saanich’s former mayor Eric Sherwood, “a driving force for the creation of the Panorama Recreation Centre,” as described by Gordon and Gillian Gummer.

Many of the letter writers also questioned why North Saanich is pushing for a new library at the location while it is already contributing towards the library it shares with Sidney near that municipality’s downtown core.

“Sidney/North Saanich library already serves us very well,” said Patricia Stockdill. “We do not require any more duplication of services.”

Others questioned the very need for a physical repository of reading material. “Why spend money to build a brand new library when the world is going digital?” asks John Berger, who argues that the municipality should instead invest more resources into improving traffic safety in the area near Kelset Elementary School.

“The three-way stop at the bottom of Forest Park and East Saanich desperately needs a flashing red light in the middle of the intersection,” he said. “I’ve witnessed so many drivers running these stop signs and causing near fatal accidents with pedestrians.”

RELATED: North Saanich approves traffic safety study for local elementary school

But councillors also received, albeit far fewer, letters of support from residents.

“As a North Saanich resident, I feel that this would be a great asset to our community and that the services offered would by used by a variety of residents,” said Carolyn Moeller. “I feel that adding the library to the existing facility will provide ideal access for all members of the community. This new library will provide all citizens with a wide range of benefits whether you are checking out books, using it for a quiet place to study or to use other services like special programming or internet access. This will also create quality jobs within our community.”

Last month, Sidney councillors also passed a motion that speaks of “no concern” about the project from the municipality’s perspective following a report in which Sidney staff writes that the growing population of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula “would benefit from expanded community services, which are co-located with existing and well-established community uses.” Any future library, in other words, would not duplicate existing services as far as Sidney is concerned, thereby bolstering the internal case for the project.

The provincial ministry of agriculture also appears to have given the project its tacit blessing. Reed Bailey, a land use planner with the ministry, notes that proposed OCP amendments appear to be crafted specifically for the parcel in trying to dispel fears that they would undermine protection, writing that the ministry “believes that this will ultimately not have a significant impact on agricultural lands within the District.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

Saanich police are asking for the public’s help locating missing woman Christina Olsen, 41, who was last seen on May 15 in the 4500-block of Blenkinsop Road. (Photo via the Saanich Police Department)
MISSING: Police seek woman last seen at Saanich mental health facility

Christina Olsen, 41, left Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility on May 15

Plans to restore the ecology of Sidney Island include the eradication of fallow deer first introduced in the early 1900s. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Parks Canada proposal calls for eradication of fallow deer on Sidney Island

Proposed eradication part of a larger plan to restore local ecology but obstacles remain ahead

A dramatic four-vehicle crash at the intersection of Government and Herald streets brings standstill in downtown Victoria on May 18. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Downtown Victoria intersection reopens after 4 car crash injures passengers, slowed traffic

Traffic impacted after crash closes Government and Herald streets

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory. (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read