Fast Tracked Bowker Creek Land Sale: Richmond and Lansdowne : A Lost Opportunity

Is SD61 really a real estate company with a sideline in in education?

  • March 5 2018 Ed Policy Standing Committee: McNally: That the Board endorse the Bowker Creek Blueprint initiative./ Carried. For: McNally, Paynter, Watters  Abstain: Leonard
  • March 12, 2018 Board Meeting: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria)
    endorse in principle the Bowker Creek Blueprint
    . Carried Unanimously.

Hospice wants to buy the small parcel of land beside Lansdowne and Richmond Schools, and build, but if Saanich Council and the CRD find it unsuitable for a build because of the riparian environment which may feature flooding, Hospice may sell it on the open market for whatever purpose.

Shockingly, Hospice senior staff have not even explored the CNIB building which id directly opposite RJH before approaching the SD61 Secretary-Treasurer with this proposal to buy, , which I find appalling.

Both the Hospice senior official and the SD61 Secretary Treasurer pleaded ignorance of past explorations for a new Hospice and of the Bowker Creek Plan, which the SD61 Board endorsed – because they had only been in office for 2 years. What happened to corporate history and research?

Second reading of the sale Bylaw is on Monday’s Board agenda, at E.2 d. Moving right along.

See Articles 5 and 6, Bylaw 9010: Final reading of the bylaw must have a simple majority to pass.

And “urgent” votes can be done by email by Poll Vote (Bylaw 9011).

The Bowker Creek Blueprint, 2018: Partnership Opportunities with  School District #61:

City of Victoria Endorsement of the Blueprint:

March 12, 2018 Board Highlights:

The Board of Education is endorsing the “Bowker Creek Blueprint”, a 100-year action plan to restore the Bowker Creek Watershed. The CRD is aiming to restore above-ground sections and widen the creek corridor with gradual and curved banks to prevent flooding.

Oak Bay High students have been hands-on in the restoration initiative. In the fall, students removed invasive species and replanted native species to help restore the area near their school property.

Among visions for this property, mine is involvement of Indigenous adults and elders, and Indigenous youth from SD61 and Camosun and others in a riparian restoration project and salmon habitat restoration alongside Friends of Bowker Creek. Oak Bay High School has completed a similar project.

SD61 could place a portable classroom / studio on the property, properly prepared for possible flooding of the creek over its banks,  for students to use as a classroom for their riparian repair and native plant understanding and support projects.

This vision is stated by the CRD as well:

Living Lab Project at Bowker Creek

The Living Lab Project is a collaboration between UVic, the Songhees Nation, and local secondary schools to provide students and community with the knowledge and resources needed to support the development of an environmental stewardship program within traditional Lekwungen territory. In June 2017, Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth participants visited the restored Bowker Creek site at Oak Bay High School to learn about creek restoration, and how to assess water quality and biodiversity.

This project, extended to the Richmond/Lansdowne land, supports the aspirations of the Blueprint and  could be a model for many other sites in the province or more widely.

Meanwhile sale proceeds on a very fast track, to help pay for a new Cedar Hill Middle School build which the Ministry of Education will not fund properly (as usual), pitting environmental restoration against building to a net zero / net zero ready standard.

In the public information video, community members ask many pointed questions.

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC : Bowker Creek Blueprint: A Beacon of Inspiration (2021) :

This publication is the 10th in the Partnership’s “Watershed
Blueprint Case Profile Series”. Because there is no equal
to the Bowker Creek Blueprint and the intergenerational
100-Year Action Plan, the intent is that this “story behind
the story” will have lasting value as a legacy resource for
the Bowker Creek Initiative. The hope is that others will be
inspired by the Bowker experience. It is a beacon of hope.

That hope is about to be dashed.

And in this memo dated April 10, 2017, from a former SD61 Secretary Treasurer, there is lots of public land
in SD61 to keep the SD61 Real Estate Company busy  in your community.

About Diane McNally