*URGENT* Save the peak and wildlife at Gonzales Hill, Victoria BC

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PRIORITY ACTIONS:

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Email the Mayor and Council, board of variance, CRD parks (mayorandcouncil@victoria.ca  obcouncil@oakbay.ca  bov@victoria.ca  crdchair@crd.bc.ca  lhutcheson@crd.bc.ca)

We ask the owners, the developer, and the blasting company to PLEASE stop blasting the peak of Gonzales Hill.

1980 Fairfield Place is a vacant lot in a magnificent, stunning Garry Oak Meadow which directly adjoins Gonzales Hill park, and is home to deer, eagles and other wildlife. The rocky outcrop on the lot is the peak of Gonzales Hill and most have always assumed this lot was part of the park.

It is one of Victoria and Oak Bay residents’ favorite city parks. It features panoramic views, and it is the ONLY regional park in the City of Victoria. CRD stats show at least 49,000 visitors per year! This is a rare Garry Oak ecosystem. These ecosystems are home to more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal British Columbia. Many of these species occur nowhere else in Canada. They are biologically significant and are being destroyed as we speak. It is known that Indigenous people burned the vegetation in the Vancouver Island Garry Oak meadows to help hunting and to ensure a bounty of usable plants. These plants are still here today – chocolate lily, licorice fern, rock mosses and grasses.

Garry Oak trees have been cut down and ground-shaking blasting is now occurring every single day. There are a pair of eagles that live in these trees and deer are frightened by the loud blasting. The blasting will have a significant impact on the eagles and wildlife, particularly during the eagle breeding season (January to August 31st.)

The blasting in this sensitive Garry Oak Ecosystem continues each day despite the fact that the zoning bylaw variance to site the house on top of the peak is currently being contested in the BC Supreme Court. A full-sized zoning-compliant house can be built without blasting and destroying the peak. 

The ecological integrity of Gonzales Hill Park will be lost with this siting of this house adjacent to the park; wildlife do not understand park boundaries. There are plenty of old houses to knock down and re-do. Why destroy an iconic peak above a park that is loved by the community? 

The impact of this development on the border of this particular park, because it is so small and central, is more impactful than a similar development would be along the borders of the CRD’s other regional parks outside the city, which are far larger.

This is an urgent matter of community integrity.

We ask the owners, the developer, and the blasting company to PLEASE stop blasting the site until the legality of the bylaw variance is resolved in Supreme Court in late April of 2021.

Please help save the peak of Gonzales Hill park for future generations by signing this petition and emailing friends.of.gonzales@outlook.com.