Residents want to keep trail open

The Dean Park Estates Community Association is determined to keep Dunsmuir Lodge and its trails open to the public.

The Dean Park Estates Community Association is determined to keep Dunsmuir Lodge and its trails open to the public.

In a letter to premier Christy Clark, the association requested the provincial government re-look at purchasing at least a portion of the North Saanich land.

“We would request that your government work with the University of Victoria, to ensure that the public retains ownership to at least the eastern 18.5 hectares (45 per cent) of the property which contains the hiking trails, the main access road from McTavish Road and the lower parking lot,” stated the letter signed by association president Werner Bink.

Dunsmuir, situated on the northern flank of Mount Newton in North Saanich, consists of 40.5 hectares of property with the lodge having 45 guest rooms, 15 meeting rooms, two reception rooms, a 200-seat restaurant and 70-seat lounge.

“For three decades the residents of Greater Victoria and visitors to this area have enjoyed walking the trails of the 18.5 hectare eastern portion of the Dunsmuir Lodge property. For the same period of time, residents of Greater Victoria have used the lower parking lot of Dunsmuir Lodge to park their cars while hiking the lower trials in John Dean Provincial Park,” Bink wrote. “When the Dunsmuir Lodge property is sold, the land will be privately owned and the hiking trails and the parking lot will no longer be accessible to the residents and visitors of Greater Victoria.

Long-term financial considerations led the University of Victoria to close Dunsmuir Lodge in the spring of 2009 citing its inability to generate enough revenue for much-needed upgrades. The university estimated that an investment of more than $2-million would be necessary to bring Dunsmuir up to market standards.

– with News Review files