CRD agrees to buy land for long-awaited park in Otter Point

Property purchased for $650,000, with $130,000 in donations from The Land Conservancy

The Capital Regional District has approved the purchase of 23.5 hectares of land for a community park in Otter Point. (Contributed - Joyce MacKinnon)

The Capital Regional District has approved the purchase of a piece of property long considered for its potential as a community park.

The 23.5-hectare property known as Admiral’s Forest has been identified as a prime candidate for a community park in Otter Point for many years. The land includes several trees that would be considered old-growth and many secluded wetlands, the CRD said in a media release.

“I am so pleased that the Juan de Fuca Community Parks Service has purchased this incredible property and preserved it as a community park,” said Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks. “Congratulations to everyone who was a part of this project.”

Community members requested the CRD Regional Parks Committee to acquire the land when the property was listed for sale. The land was part of a portion of 130 acres formerly owned by Rear-Admiral John Charles, a long-time Sooke who had historically given permission to community members and horseback riders to use the trails. The portion in question was left in trust after Charles died in 2010.

While the property did not meet the necessary criteria for regional park acquisition, it was determined to be well-suited for a community park, the CRD media release noted.

The property was purchased for $650,000, with $130,000 in donations from The Land Conservancy and individuals living in the Otter Point neighbourhood. The Juan de Fuca Trails Community Society launched a fund-raising drive in May to secure the balance in funding.

Cathy Armstrong, executive director for The Land Conservancy, said they were pleased to contribute to the efforts of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society and the CRD in protecting Admiral’s Forest for the area’s ecological integrity and wildlife habitat.

“It’s the culmination of a dream and hopefully the beginning of an anchor park that will protect a wildlife corridor and extend trail access for everyone in the CRD,” Margot Swinburnson, a member of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society, said.

The Juan de Fuca Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission supported the transfer of Wigglesworth Lake Community Park to CRD Regional parks in exchange for $173,000 in land acquisition funds to ensure funding requirements were met.

Wigglesworth Lake Community Park is in the Malahat community in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, and complements the adjacent Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail, part of the Trans-Canada Trail owned and managed by CRD Regional Parks.

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