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Rithet's Bog LogoBARA Labels Rithet’s Bog ‘High Priority’
– Broadmead Farms office plans sent to public hearings

Saanich News – Wednesday, January 26, 1994

A Broadmead-area office park plan can now go to public hearing, council members agreed at their Jan. 17 meeting. The decision had been held up a week, awaiting a report from Mayor Murray Coell on the status of nearby Rithet’s Bog, which is owned by the same developer – Broadmead Farms Limited.

Despite Coell’s detailed account, which described at length the history and ecological significance of the 42-hectare (105 acre) site, some council members continued to complain about the lack of progress in acquiring the bog property for the municipality. And they hinted their final support of Broadmead’s application to rezone their residential land on Chatterton Way to accommodate an office park was closely linked to the fate of the bog.

“Several of us feel now is the time” said Coun. Bob Gillespie, who, along with councillors John Mika, Ian Cass, Ida Chong and Judy Brownoff, held up the public hearing vote. “It’s high time, in the next few weeks,” he stressed, that some kind of solution be presented to council “to put this issue to bed.” Waiting until June when the development company is expected to wind up its work in the Broadmead area, Gillespie added, would not be a good bargaining position for Saanich.

Cass agreed. “This issue has been hanging over us like the sword of Damocles for quite some time. It should be settled long before June,” he warned.

But Counc. Ray Williams, who, along with Frank Leonard, John Garrison and the mayor, objected to the hearing delay at the last meeting, lashed out at “one senior member of council who saw fit to make political hay out of this situation.” It was a “totally inappropriate” tactic, he charged. The major kept everyone well informed of the status of negotiations in closed-door meetings, Williams pointed out.

According to Coell’s report, the acquisition of the ecologically-sensitive bog has been a municipal objective for almost three decades. Despite years of discussion and study, two offers to sell the bog property have been rejected and it remains in private hands.

Some councillors have argued the bog should be a ‘gift’ from the owners/developers who have had a profitable run in the area. Coell, who has pushed for municipal acquisition of the site for several years, acknowledges such a gift would be ideal, although perhaps not acceptable to the owners.

Broadmead Area Residents Association representative Gary Potter said BARA considers acquisition of the bog a “highest priority,” but also supports sending the office plan to public hearing.

Others disagreed. Haji Charania, president of the North Quadra Land Use Protection Association, argued no further rezonings should be permitted in Broadmead until the issue of the bog is settled.

“In our view, rezoning, especially upzoning, is a privilege and not a right,” he said.

Over the last five years, Charania charged, Broadmead has received “several upzonings along Chatteron – without any consideration to the community.” Upzonings and higher densities, he told council, should result in a “fair and equitable benefit to the community in terms of natural and public amenities.”

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