Subdivision of Metchosin land can proceed — if Boys and Girls Club moves quickly

Metchosin council has unanimously passed a bylaw blocking future subdivision applications on a 39.5-acre site owned by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater ­Victoria.

The new rule does not, however, affect a recent application to create seven 4.9-acre lots on the property — allowed under the previous rural zoning — ­provided the subdivision plan is finalized within 12 months.

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The outcome of Monday’s council meeting sets the stage for a future sale at 3900 Metchosin Rd.

Metchosin, backed by many of its residents, is keen to see the property preserved as green space. Citizens have protested the plan to subdivide and more than 4,000 people have signed a petition.

The non-profit club is determined to sell under-used land to pay for programs for the growing number of youth and families requiring more complex services closer to home. Its holdings in the area cover 98 acres in all, and it plans to hold onto the remaining land.

Metchosin’s approving officer will decide whether the land will be subdivided. The issue will not return to council.

The club bought the land from the province in 2004 to run programs. On Monday,it failed to persuade council to consider buying the land or to adjourn the bylaw to allow further discussion.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns has previously said that the municipality granted more than $200,000 in tax exemptions to the club on the understanding the land would be preserved for the benefit of the public, particularly for outdoor youth recreation and education ­programs.

He asked the organization to drop subdivision plans and instead look at ways to retain the land in a natural state.

“This is not typical of the Boys and Girls Club, from my experience,” Ranns told council. “Over the many years that I’ve worked with the Boys and Girls Club, they have been very open, very co-operative.” It’s only the past year or two that they seem to have lost communication, he said.

Metchosin is open to a ­dialogue any time, he said.

Wayne Jensen, treasurer for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Victoria Foundation, disagrees that communication has been lacking, saying the process to sever the 39.5-acre parcel from the total land holding was started in 2019. “We made it quite plain what we’re trying to do.”

Metchosin moved quickly on the bylaw, which is aimed at devaluing the land, he said in a media release. “We have been members of this community for more than 35 years so it is hard not to feel anything but bullied by our municipal leaders.”

Jensen said the property has not been marketed and no possible sale figure has been set. He expects that the site would be sold in one piece, with the subdivision option in place.

The club’s only option if it wants to save the land’s value is to fast-track development on the property, he said. “That was never our intention.”

Dalyce Dixon, the club’s executive director, told council that the Metchosin site is the organization’s least-used property in the region.

The organization is facing an increasing number of children and families needing complex services and predicts that this demand will continue to rise, she said. This is due to several factors — from the financial crisis of 2008, growing numbers in School District 62, changes to the Young Offenders Act, and a “huge reshaping of community needs,” she said.

Money spent on maintaining the land could instead be spent providing supports for young people, she said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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