Horticultural centre surprises Saanich with request for $250,000 grant

Saanich was thrown a curveball last week when the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific asked for $250,000 to rebuild after a fire destroyed two buildings on the site in February.

After an initial request for a $130,000 community grant, which they’ve been granted in subsequent years, Roger Charles, executive director of the Horticulture Centre, appealed to council for an additional quarter-million.

“Because of the fire we need to essentially rebuild all the infrastructure. And obviously we see this as a way they can help us rebuild what was destroyed,” Charles said.

Council didn’t have an opportunity to debate the request, as it was forwarded to the director of finance for discussion.

Coun. Vicki Sanders, liaison to the Horticulture Centre, said she feels it would be a good investment.

“Out of the fire, if they can come out ahead, and get something that’s an asset to us in the region and in the municipality, I certainly support this if it gives them the opportunity to reach their goals,” she said. “It is a significant amount of money … but I think it’s money well spent.”

Charles says prior to the fire, which caused approximately $200,000 in damage, the Horticulture Centre planned to launch a $5 million campaign to build a new college. That’s changed slightly, with a goal of raising $7 million.

“What we need to do is a much more comprehensive rebuilding. We need to rebuild for the long-term, rather than simply replace that 20-year-old structure,” he said.

If council doesn’t approve the additional $250,000 request, Charles says the lofty campaign will still go ahead as planned. He anticipates individuals, governments and corporations will come through and support the goal.

The campaign is expected to launch by the end of April.

Council will likely see a formal recommendation from the director of finance in early April.