LETTERS: Trail access was guaranteed many years ago

Contrary to Jamie Cassels’ opinion, this is currently a “win-win-lose” proposal.

Jamie Cassels, president of the University of Victoria, recently stated that the sale of the Dunsmuir property is a “win-win-win arrangement.”

That must be refuted considering neither North Saanich council or the community at large have been consulted despite many requests.

In 1985, UVic and the District jointly authorized public trail access to John Dean Provincial Park. A Memorandum of Understanding in Nov. 12 1999 was signed by David Strong (then-president and vice-chancellor of UVic) and Ron Townsend (North Saanich’s acting mayor) detailed “…the role of the university in the development and enhancement of the parks, trail systems and greenways of North Saanich…”

In April 2016, at the Dean Park Estates Community Association AGM, UVic representative Peter Kuran stated all of the Dunsmuir trails would remain publicly accessible in perpetuity.

On 28 June 2016, at a poorly-advertised open house, UVic ignored their previous public commitments and announced the closure of all existing trails to the public.

On Sept. 19 2016, in the face of public opposition, council requested UVic hold a community open house and return with a compromise. The resulting open house was anything but clear, resulting in more questions than answers.

The Dunsmuir property was gifted to UVic by George Poole who wished to “see a healthy, vibrant, livable community” – it is imperative that respectful, open discussion between all stakeholders takes place to ensure the Dunsmuir sale benefits all stakeholders and is being disposed of at fair market value per the Ministry of Finance regulations.

Contrary to Jamie Cassels’ opinion, this is currently a “win-win-lose” proposal.

Laura Veasey, Friends of the Loop Trail, North Saanich

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