‘Urge the district to reconsider’: Central Saanich expropriates land from long term care provider

‘Urge the district to reconsider’: Central Saanich expropriates land from long term care provider
Central Saanich
The District is considering a strategic acquisition of ‘Lot A’ Hovey Road (no address) as key to moving forward with civic facilities. development.

The District of Central Saanich has started the process of acquiring a “critical” parcel of land on Hovey Road to support the goals of redeveloping civic facilities.

Some of these facilities could include municipal offices, fire and police facilities, and possibly other community and recreation amenities.

“After attempts to acquire the property, the district has moved forward with the acquisition mechanism known as expropriation,” Ryan Windsor, Mayor of Central Saanich, told CHEK News on Friday.

In other words, the district is taking the land.

“Considered a last resort, ‘expropriation’ is the legal process by which a government is permitted to take private interests in land for a public purpose when the government and owner are unable to reach an agreement,” said the municipality in a release Wednesday. “The process is governed by BC’s Expropriation Act and the process and timelines for notices, approvals, payments and possession dates are directed by the Act.”

Before doing so, the district says it tried multiple times to purchase the property for market value. The district appraised the property at a value of $3.1 million.

The land is approximately 2.2-acres and is currently zoned as an A-1 property and is in the District’s Urban Containment Boundary, without the designation of an agriculture land reserve.

One resident who lives nearby hopes the district will use the land to build something that’s deeply needed.

“If they’re planning to use it for affordable housing then I’d be fine with it,” Marlene Watson told CHEK News.

But it won’t be affordable housing, or a long term care facility as the owners had envisioned, but a new city hall that will be built on the property.

Competing interests for new municipal hall or new long term care facility

Windsor says the current municipal hall, built in the late 1950s-60s, houses a police station and one of their firehalls, among other facilities, and has “deficiencies.”

“Things like asbestos are present in the building, and the service and needs of the municipality have grown and changed,” said Windsor. “So it is time for us to move forward with our plan.”

The lot is on the corner of Wallace Street and Hovey Road, which the district describes as a central location. Across the street is Centennial Park, and the property is beside a main roadway serviced by BC Transit, with a pickleball and tennis courts nearby.

Park Place Seniors Living says it has owned this land since 2006, when Island Health earmarked it as a desirable location for a seniors home, but couldn’t put the funds up to buy it. Park Place says it was planning on building a long term care home on the property.

“Post-COVID, LTC (long term care) facilities must be larger than pre-COVID to maximize health safety issues, and this increased facility size cannot be accommodated by “building up” due to increased fire risk and the difficulty of evacuating physically vulnerable seniors and residents,” said Park Place Seniors Living in a statement to CHEK News.

“Optimal development of a LTC Facility requires both Lots A and B. Development on Lot B alone (Lot B is not subject to expropriation) will, of necessity, be smaller in size. We respectfully urge the district to reconsider its decision to expropriate Lot A.”

When asked if it was right to take land from a corporation that builds seniors homes, the mayor said they’d tried negotiating.

“This, as a last resort, is a mechanism that we have chosen to pursue because it is critical to the district and at this point I have no further comment on that,” said Windsor.

What would happen with the 3.8 acre plot of land the district’s municipal hall is currently sitting on? The mayor wouldn’t say.

In their news release, the district says it will be engaging partners and the wider community as it develops concepts for future facilities.


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