Langford group launches effort to preserve forested 101-acre parcel of land along Saanich Inlet

“The goal is conservation and protection, and hopefully public access,” says Langford resident Kristen Awram.

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A 101-acre property located on W̱SÁNEĆ traditional territory between Goldstream and Gowlland Tod provincial parks is up for sale, and a group of local residents has launched a grassroots effort to preserve it.

Members of the Langford Voters For Change action committee have mounted a petition online in the hopes of showing decision makers that Capital Regional District residents support the conservation of this property. As of Wednesday, Aug. 25, the petition had garnered over 1,000 signatures.

“Feeling like I’m a neighbour and having a personal connection to the land is really important to me,” says Kristen Awram, who spearheaded the initiative. “One day it really came on strong, the feeling that I had to act otherwise it might be too late.”

According to a real estate listing, the property is located at 1028 Finlayson Arm Rd., within the City of Langford. It has approximately 365 metres of waterfront. It’s not part of the Agricultural Land Reserve and the owner estimates the trees, which are more than 120 years old, could be worth around $2.5 million. The listing says logging activity hasn’t occurred on the property since the year 1900 and that the owner has kept mineral rights of the property as well. It’s listed by Sutton Group West Coast Realty.

Awram has lived next to the parcel of land for 12 years and says she’s been hiking through it for the past 11 years. It’s a common spot for nearby residents to take in nature and access the waterfront as well as a stunning view of Mount Finlayson, she says.

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Sometime around March, 2021, Awram says no trespassing signs —  which she’d never seen in her time living next to it — showed up on the property. Curious, she looked up the property’s real estate listing.

“I saw that it was being advertised as having $2.5 million in timber value and I found that really scary,” Awram says.

The property neighbours the Goldstream River watershed and Awram was concerned about the potential for it to be logged. She says she didn’t see anyone else taking action and speaking up against this sale so she stepped in.

Langford parcel for sale Mount Finlayson view
Mount Finlayson as seen from the 101-acre parcel that is for sale. Residents are known to hike through the property to access this viewpoint and the Saanich Inlet. Photo courtesy of Kristen Awram

Awram took the cause to Langford Voters For Change — a group of citizens that formed in the past year and has created an action committee to speak up about items of interest and concern to Langford residents. Awram says the group “swiftly agreed” to support her and launched the petition.

Soon after, Awram says she reached out to B.C. Parks to discuss acquiring the land and, from there, was directed to speak with the Capital Regional District. She reached out to the CRD — who she says was very responsive — as well as the Land Conservancy of B.C. Since then, this grassroots movement has also included discussions with nearby land trusts, conservationists and First Nations.

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Awram says she tried to speak with the property owner as well, but didn’t have any luck. She went through the realtor and was told they’d be able to speak once Awram and the action committee found stakeholders who could help acquire the land.

Awram says the property has already been assessed by the Land Conservancy of B.C. and the CRD but hasn’t received an official assessment yet. She hopes more signatures on the petition will show stakeholders that there is great interest to conserve the property.

“It’s a really unique parcel in that it stretches from the ocean and then up to this magnificent viewpoint,” Awram says. “There’s quite a few ancient substantial cedars and what you see are really intact ecosystems.”

The group is also looking into the historical significance of the property, Awram says, with leads that it possibly once belonged to Emma Dixon, the eldest daughter of Caleb and Elizabeth Pike, who were early settlers in the District of Highlands area.

“The goal is conservation and protection, and hopefully public access,” Awram says. [end]

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