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LETTER: Lansdowne property a community asset

On March 14, the Greater Victoria School Board will vote to sell precious community land at Lansdowne Middle School south campus. Once sold, this natural public space is lost forever.

The board has received hundreds of submissions expressing concern. At the Feb. 23 special board meeting, trustees received an overwhelming message to not sell this land. Presenters spoke passionately of the land’s value: for school space in this densifying region; as green space for students and surrounding neighbourhoods in a green space deficit; as home to Bowker Creek and a floodplain critical to reducing downstream flooding; for an outdoor classroom; and as an integral part of this watershed needing protection in a climate emergency.

Will the school board listen? To date it has not, failing to consult per Ministry of Education’s land disposal policies. Neither the public nor stakeholders were consulted, or notified, prior to the sales agreement announcement on Oct. 14, 2021. Since then, the public has only been allowed to submit questions and comments – with no response, no opportunity for dialogue, and no discussions of alternatives.

I believe this undemocratic process, combined with the controversial suspension of two trustees, invalidates the board’s authority to sell this land. The Songhees Nation has called for the trustees’ resignation, the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association has voted ‘no confidence’ in the board (and opposes the sale), and trustees Whiteaker and Duncan and other community leaders question the legislative authority used to suspend these elected trustees. The board must step back from this harmful, irrevocable sale.

Isabel Cordua-von Specht

Saanich