The City of Victoria has announced that a new park has opened up to the public in the South Jubilee neighbourhood at the corner of Leighton Road and Bank Street.
The park comes following the purchase of a 12,700 square foot parcel of land, comprised of a Garry oak meadow.
In a press release from the City, officials say that the new park will be named Agamemnon and Eleni Kasapi Park “in recognition of the family’s preservation of the property in its natural state for the benefit of the community.”
The City says it will maintain the open space with a few enhancements, including a wood chip pathway, benches and signage. According to the release, the signage will include information about the Indigenous history of the land.
“The City is always looking for opportunities to expand its public parks and green spaces for people to enjoy the outdoors, especially during these challenging times with the pandemic,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “This land acquisition will provide more publicly accessible green space to the South Jubilee neighbourhood, a goal that has been identified in both our Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan and Official Community Plan.”
The City of Victoria adds that the property has “environmental significance” as well because the Garry oak ecosystem is endangered across the country, with less than five per cent remaining in Canada.
According to Victoria city staff, local residents have expressed a desire to see the green space preserved for public use, which sparked the conversation between the City and the property owner.
Money was utilized from the Parks Acquisition Fund to cover $1 million of the property purchase and the issuance of a charitable donation receipt in the amount of $210,000 helped cover the remainder of the purchase price.
The Kasapi family has donated the proceeds from the sale to the University of Victoria to establish an endowment supporting two undergraduate scholarships in the Faculty of Science.
The Kasapi family made the gift in memory of Kasapi Construction’s founder, Agamemnon A. Kasapi
“It was important to my father who passed away last year that we see the land used in ways that were beneficial to the community, and selling the land to the City ensures it will always be accessible to the community to enjoy,” said Mario Kasapi. “The annual UVic scholarship will also go further and give back to the community for many years to come.”
Two generations of Kasapis have attended UVic, including Mario’s two daughters who recently graduated from the university.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the Kasapi family for choosing our students as the recipients of this gift,” says Peter Loock, dean of the Faculty of Science. “The Agamemnon Kasapi and Family Scholarship will have a transformational effect for some of our highest achieving students, acting as an incentive, a reward for hard work and a reprieve from financial concerns over the course of their degree.”
The City’s Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan lays out a roadmap to guide planning, management and investment over the next 25 years. For more information on the Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, visit victoria.ca/parks.