Haro Woods: The story so far


In preparation of her presentation to the Board on Wednesday March 13th, Deborah Dickson, chair of the Haro Woods Committee, has provided us with this historical overview of the well-loved part of the community. 

What is Haro Woods?  This is a forested area in Saanich East bounded by Arbutus, Finnerty and Haro Roads.  It is the last remaining significant forest greenspace in the Saanich east area of the CRD.  It is owned by U Vic (1.5ha), Saanich (3.0 ha) and the CRD (4.5ha). The timeline to date: 

  • 1984:  The three ‘landowners” of the day (U Vic, Saanich, Queen Alexandra) had an informal understanding of the value of this ‘recreation’ area as public greenspace.
  • Feb 6, 1991: “Trees Cleared for Interceptor”  “ …  A map of Cadboro Bay’s Haro Woods, subdivided for single family lots, caused some confusion when it turned up in the background of the proposed route for the CRD’s East Coast Interceptor sewer line.     “I don’t know how where that came from,” said Ald. Frank Leonard, who also serves as the CRD Chairman.”  “…Planner Alan Hopper said that the drawing illustrated only one in a series of possibilities for the five hectare municipally owned lot…”   “… The offending map used by mistake to illustrate Interceptor path, showed more development in the neighbourhood than residents want.  Saanich staff said the map represents just one of many possibilities”
  • Feb 13, 1991: Letter from U Vic Students’ Society  “… The Uof Vic Students’ Society condemns the removal of urban green space without prior public consultation through an environmental impact assessment … I would suggest that the removal of trees be immediately stopped until such a time as a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, including public input, has been completed.”  signed by Gary Hartford – VP Finance
  • 1994: Haro Woods along with Glencoe Cove and Panama Hill are included in the Commonwealth Nature Legacy.  This Legacy was the first step in preserving and protecting significant urban green spaces.  It states that the University will play a role in protecting the adjacen Haro Woods lands on behalf of the Province.
  • March 1, 1995: “Property, cash swaps …” for Panama Hill and  Haro Woods” “… Greenspace and greenbacks were exchanged at Saanich municipal hall this week as Panama Hill and Haro Woods were officially passed into municipal hands.The Two pieces of the parkland, part of the province’s Commonwealth Nature Legacy, were designated to go from the Crown to Saanich last spring.  They become part of a growing municipal parks inventory …” “Saanich Mayor said Monday’s developments culminate the three to four years of aggressive parks acquisition in the municipality.  He said the key to adding the parkland has been ‘partnerships’ with the provincial government, the provincial Capital Commission and the University of Victoria.”   
  • 2002:  The Local Area Plan identified all of the Woods as warranting status formalization, and the Saanich portion as “Public Wild Woodland”.
  • 2004: Cadboro Bay Residents Association task group is organized to remove invasive species (completed in 2006 after 5,000 man hours of volunteer work
  • Feb 15, 2007:   “The idea of a treatment plant in residential Saanich East was a surprise to Mayor Frank Leonard,…" 
  • CBRA Newsletter April 2008:  “The Cadboro Bay Resident’s Assn. is calling for a designation of the Haro Woods urban forest site as Saanich Park. Our residents are no longer confident that public wild woodland status for Haro Woods as identified in the Cadboro Bay LAP affords the security and protection for this naturally significant community asset… with the high degree of interest in the municipality going green as part of a healthy community,  it would be inconceivable that this area could become anything but protected green space…   CBRA president has committed that it is time to establish formal protection the for last-remaining intact forested green space in Saanich East – the area that stretches along the south side of Arbutus Road between Finnerty Rd and Haro Rd. 
  • 2010: Two years of intense lobbying to preserve Haro Woods Park from becoming the site for the proposed Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant.  On June 9th the CRD decided not to locate the industrial plant in the CRD owned portion of Haro Woods.  
  • September 17th, 2011   “Land Swap to protect Saanich’s Haro Woods”
  • September 21, 2011   Deal reached for Haro Woods quote:  “ There are purists, idealists who’ll say 94% (of Haro Woods) is not enough”, Leonard said.  “Ninety-four per cent out of 100 is not a compromise.   I think it’s a real success and I hope the community sees it that way too.” “… Between Panama Flats and Haro Woods, we could basically increase Saanich’s park inventory by 79 acres in one year,” Leonard said. 
  • February 24, 2013  Haro Woods Rezoning Open House     Two rezoning meetings to inform both Cadboro Bay and Gordon Head residents were held at Goward House.   Attendees were informed by a CRD’s representative that the attenuation tanks will take over 30% of Haro Woods with major development along Arbutus from Finnerty to Haro Road.   It is estimated  20 years for the forest to recover.   It has been 23 years and Haro Woods has still not been restored or has recovered from the last CRD project to install holding tanks.  It is now referred to as the disturbed area of the forest.

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