Conditional offer accepted on Boys and Girls Club property in Metchosin

A group that provides nature-based programs and retreats for youth and adults has had its conditional offer accepted to acquire the entire 90-acre property of the Boys and Girls Club in Metchosin.

Alaina Hallett, a director and partner in Thriving Roots Wilderness School, confirmed the pending offer Thursday, but did not disclose the purchase price.

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The Boys and Girls Club had originally listed only a 40-hectare piece of the property for $2.3 million.

The entire 90-acre property at 3900 Metchosin Rd. had an assessed value of $5,177,100 as of July 1, 2020, according to B.C. Assessment. That’s up from $4,879,000 the previous year.

Hallett said the Thriving Roots Wilderness School, structured as a limited partnership, has until June 21 to secure financing either through a mortgage or an outright purchase.

She said Thriving Roots is looking for more partners and investors.

“There are [already] partners with deep pockets, and we could use one or two more,” Hallet said. “We’ve already raised most of the capital to bring this vision to life, but we still need help to make it possible.”

Thriving Roots has offered several programs on a private 12-acre property in Saanich over the past seven years, said Hallett. It also operates camps in Pemberton and the Cowichan Valley, according to its website.

The Metchosin property, which includes Garry oak ecosystems and rolling meadows, offers an opportunity to expand several programs, Hallett said.

Some of those include wilderness-based education for hundreds of youth and adults each year, regenerative farming projects and community-led land restoration, nature-based therapy and counselling services and retreats for community leaders, and Indigenous partnerships for reconciliation and healing.

Hallett said Thriving Roots already has a good track record of helping youth, nature and communities.

“More people want access to our services, but we can’t offer them without more land,” she said.

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria Foundation put the land up for sale in late April, saying it is surplus to the club’s needs and the money is needed to fund more services and supports for children, youth and families in the region.

The decision to sell has sparked heated debates over the past several months, with the district council adopting a bylaw amendment that would limit any subdivision to a single lot on 40 acres, instead of the eight, five-acre parcels allowed under the zoning.

The club said the unanimous decision by council would “devalue” the land, and proceeded with plans to list the property.

A petition against the plans to sell and subdivide attracted thousands of signatures.

The Boys and Girls Club has offered programming for children and youth on the property for 35 years. The land was purchased from the provincial government in 2004 for $1.6 million.

The property is currently split-zoned — institutional over 58 acres and rural over 40 acres.

Thriving Roots is hosting a virtual open house on June 17 at 6 p.m., where it will answer questions about its vision for the Metchosin land. The link to access the meeting is on its website.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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