Saanich officially owner of Haro Woods

Land swap with the Capital Regional District gives Saanich 90 per cent of woods for parkland

Haro Woods is officially protected.

With Saanich council giving final reading to a rezoning application Tuesday night, Saanich’s land swap with the Capital Regional District now marks 90 per cent of the 8.5-hectare forest in Cadboro Bay protected as natural woodland.

Under a deal wrangled over the past two years, the CRD gave Saanich 4.33 hectares of forest in exchange for 1.5 ha to house a 5,000-cubic-metre underground attenuation tank, which is designed to capture overflows from sewer lines during major storms.

Saanich retains another 1.4 ha of forest next to the tank site. The entire forest, including a portion owned by the University of Victoria, should appear as one, after vegetation is planted over the tank.

Mayor Frank Leonard says despite the property switching hands, residents in the area shouldn’t expect to see changes any time soon.

“The CRD will build their attenuation tank, and we’ll get to a discussion with the community about a park plan, but that’s not urgent,” he said.

“The trees look fine there. We don’t need to overthink it. This is a natural woodland; what kind of plan do you need? I don’t imagine we’ll even get to that over the next couple years, but, like I say, the trees aren’t going anywhere so there’s no rush.”

The rezoning application saw council rezone the forest parcels from residential to nature park, and create a utility zone specific for the area that will house the tank.

“This is a win-win that preserves woodland for generations to come,” Leonard said.

– with files from Edward Hill

kslavin@saanichnews.com