A statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says the McKenzie Interchange Project (here shown in a drone photo from the summer of 2018) will lead to “significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.” (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo)

A statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says the McKenzie Interchange Project (here shown in a drone photo from the summer of 2018) will lead to “significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.” (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo)

Province to pay $1.2 million for ecological losses due to McKenzie interchange

You can’t put a price on what was lost, says local advocate

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has provided $1.2 million for Saanich to compensate for ecosystems lost in the development of the McKenzie interchange.

Three sites – Saanich’s Layritz, Vic Derman and Cuthbert Holmes parks – have been chosen for restoration given their similarity to the ecosystems lost in the development of the interchange last year. Those include stores of Garry oak and trembling aspen trees.

RELATED STORY: Area residents concerned about aftermath of McKenzie interchange construction

“We are pleased the province is contributing these significant funds to enhance, restore and replace these important ecosystems in Saanich,” said Mayor Fred Haynes. “These works on our precious ecosystems talk to the very core values of Saanich as the remarkable rural, coastal, wooded and urban municipality our residents enjoy.”

Over the next few years following Spring 2022, Garry oak “restoration and enhancement” will take place at Layritz and Vic Derman Parks, while a new trembling aspen ecosystem will be created along the Colquitz River in Cuthbert Holmes Park, situated next to the interchange.

Although it’s a good start, Frances Litman, a member of the Community Trees Matter Network who spoke at public meetings against the $96 million interchange project, said the provincial funds are “absolutely not” enough to offset the ecology lost.

The interchange and Tillicum Centre’s perimeter around Cuthbert Holmes Park are an irreparable threat to salmon spawning in the Colquitz, Litman added.

“The amount of trees, habitat and greenspace that were lost, for what? You can’t put a price on that,” she said.

The amount of $1.2 million was calculated by an independent registered biologist, according to the District of Saanich.

In addition, Saanich intends to pay for a new trail, split rail fence and signage to assist in protecting Layritz’s Garry oaks. The district also plans to relocate a trail away from a larger trembling aspen restoration area within Cuthbert Holmes Park.

READ ALSO: Funding boosts restoration efforts for Vancouver Island’s Garry oak ecosystems


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