Nestled among Douglas firs and Gary oaks at 931 Woodhall Drive, sits a 100-year-old home that once belonged to George Rogers Sr. – one of Saanich’s early farmers.
Over the years, the farm that once spanned from Quadra Street to west of the Pat Bay Highway was split up and developed as the municipality grew. However, the home and its surrounding property has remained intact, so neighbours were shocked to hear that the current owners have applied to subdivide into three new lots.
Haji Charania, president of the North Quadra Community Association, explained that the owners made a similar application to subdivide in 2018 but were denied due to the “heritage value” of the home and property. Charania said the current proposal has “essentially the same layout” and should be denied as well.
The significance and ambience of the property haven’t changed, he explained, adding that neighbours fear it will lose its history if the subdivision goes forward.
Rogers, “one of the pioneer farmers of Saanich,” and his family lived in the home overlooking Quadra Street for many years, explained Stuart Stark, a retired professional heritage consultant and Woodhall Drive resident.
Eventually, the family sold the remaining property in the early 2000s but made a deal ensuring the preservation of the home, he explained, adding that Rogers Park was also established north of the property at the time.
Stark pointed out that the home is on the Saanich Heritage Register which recognizes its historical value but doesn’t offer protection. During a meeting on May 12, the Saanich Heritage Foundation weighed in on the subdivision proposal and recommended that a statement of significance be prepared for the property and that the home be considered for heritage designation. Charania hopes to see this happen but said doing so after subdividing would be a waste as the home would not be as prominent – he likened it to building homes in front of the legislature building.
|A monument sponsored by the Rogers family and the District of Saanich was erected in Rogers Park to memorialize the Rogers dairy farm which originated in 1885 and continued until 2000. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Charania added that, according to the North Quadra Local Area Plan, the property is also part of the sensitive ecosystem inventory and is flanked by several large trees, some of which would be eliminated to make way for the subdivision. He feels this would negatively impact the wildlife corridor, stormwater drainage and the ambience of the property which the Rogers family wanted to preserve. Charania said neighbours are hopeful that the “very precious piece of heritage” will be protected.
Per provincial legislation, the decision to approve or deny the subdivision lies with an approving officer, not with Saanich council so members of local government cannot weigh in.
The applicant, J.E. Anderson & Associates, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.