Saanich Council has voted on Monday night to not repurpose the Panama Flats property for strictly agricultural use.
Following a unanimous decision, the property will remain a multi-use park.
The District of Saanich purchased the Panama Flats back in 2011 and its future has since become a topic of discussion. The 62-acre property is popular amongst local residents for birdwatching and even the odd hockey game, however, Council was considering converting the park to farmlands.
Back in 2014, Council approved a plan that would potentially see the park added to the regional farmland trust and Agricultural Land Reserve.
More than half a decade later, however, it has remained publicly accessible and void of farming.
On Monday, Council revisited the topic regarding the future of Panama Flats and voted not to repurpose the land.
“It was a unanimous decision by council to both protect the ecological and agricultural basis of the property and, as you can see here with the killdeer and the robins and the kinglets and everything around here, this was a real win for the environment,” said Nathalie Chambers, a Saanich Councillor.
“Ten years has passed and during that time there’s been a power of the planet to recover what was essentially a flood, farming wasteland with native species of plants, new birds and new animals.” Added Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.
Farming might be allowed on a small portion of the flats, provided provincial guidelines are met.
Council says that residents can expect to see improvements, ecologically, on the wetlands and with the development of more trails and pathways.
Experts also point out that the partial flood plain is said not to be suited to farming or development.
Mayor Fred Haynes acknowledged prior to Monday’s decision that preserving the Panama Flats is part of a growing movement for green spaces in the municipality and that there are other areas that can be used for farming.