Calls to keep farming out of Saanich’s Panama Flats park

Calls to keep farming out of Saanich's Panama Flats park
There are calls to keep farming out of Saanich's Panama Flats park as council looks to revisit the idea once again.

There are calls to keep farming out of Saanich’s Panama Flats park as council is set to revisit the idea.

Back in 2014, council approved a plan that would see the park added to the regional farmland trust and Agricultural Land Reserve. Along with floodplain management and recreation, council planned to use it for farming.

More than half a decade later, however, it has remained as a multi-use park.

A community group, along with Saanich’s mayor, says it should stay that way.

“Why would we destroy something that is considered a gem or treasure, that is so highly valued?” Hollis Hodson said, a member of the residents association of Strawberry Vale, Marigold and Glanford.

“Other lands don’t have the same ecological value or biodiversity or level of endangered species. ”

Some argue farming has been attempted but has ultimately been unsuccessful with rising water levels and increased waterfowl.

“It’s very expensive… I believe the previous two owners abandoned it,” said Hodson.

The park is a popular spot for skating in the winter along with birdwatching and nature walks all year round.

“Imagine what it would cost to build an outdoor skating rink?” Mayor Fred Haynes told CHEK News.

“A number of species are in danger, we have seen them use that space. We’ve seen birds and other wildlife come into that space. We are achieving these high natural capital assets for free, just by standing by and watching the power of the planet express itself.”

The mayor says it’s part of a growing movement for green spaces in the municipality and that there are other areas that can be used for farming.

“The residents of Saanich have called out to us and the region to say let’s save the nature scape, like on mountain road, the 50 acres there…. the green space by Jubilee Hospital, there’s fundraising there,” he said.

A staff report will reveal more on Monday and Mayor Haynes says he will push to keep farming out, however, there are some on council who may vote to continue efforts to help with food security in the region.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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