VICTORIA -- The Capital Regional District has announced that a prime piece of forest in Saanich is set to become a new regional park, provided that a community fundraising campaign can come up with the balance of the $3.4-million price tag.

The CRD has partnered with Habitat Acquisition Trust to preserve the land at 4692 Mountain Rd. in Saanich for future generations to enjoy.

The 20 hectares of undeveloped land near Prospect Lake, known as Mountain Road Forest, is home to a coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem with Garry oaks, arbutus trees, ferns and a variety of wildlife.

The property has been owned by the same family for almost 50 years. The family has welcomed the general public to use the forest’s walking trails.

With the pending sale, neighbours and community members started a group, Friends of Mountain Road Forest, and began a letter-writing campaign urging Saanich and the CRD to take a serious look at buying the land for permanent protection.

The Capital Regional District jumped at the idea and is contributing $2 million from its Regional Parks Land Acquisition Fund towards the purchase price. Habitat Acquisition Trust will fundraise the remaining $1.4 million needed to secure the property for future parkland use.

“We are very appreciative of the landowners wanting to see this piece of land preserved as a regional park,” says CRD board chair Colin Plant. “We appreciate that they were willing to work with the CRD and the Habitat Acquisition Trust to ensure that these lands were preserved for future park use and were not put forward for future development.”

Neighbours of the property will be key in the fundraising campaign’s success, according to the trust. 

“It’s just such a special piece of property that’s been in enjoyed and cherished by the community for 50 years,” says executive director Katie Blake. “This is our opportunity to save it for the next 50 years and more.” 

Habitat Acquisition Trust is a regional land trust that works for the conservation of natural areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands through protection, collaboration, stewardship and education. 

“It’s really important to save these bigger pieces so that we can hopefully add onto them and connect over the years to create a connected system of protected areas so that our natural ecosystems can thrive,” says Blake.

The private fundraising campaign has a target completion date of Earth Day, April 22, 2021.

The family that owns the property has made a commitment to match the first $200,000 raised in private donations to ensure the permanent conservation the family envisions for the land.