Crystal Garden Closing

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Crystal Garden Closing

The PCC (Provincial Capital Commission) is shutting down the Crystal Garden here in Victoria, ostensibly because it loses about  $100,000.00 CAD a year.

This is chicken feed, about  $.20 CAD a Vilander per year for the #1 tourist attraction in Victoria. Look at the big financial picture. It brings tourists to the downtown shops and to the entire island. It educates busloads of students each year. In contrast, the government thinks nothing of spending $200,000.00 CAD for a statue of Emily Carr that will attract far fewer tourists. Two conventions have already been cancelled in protest of the closure. That’s big money.

The PCC want the Crystal Garden building for a convention centre and casino. Their claim that the Garden are losing too much money is merely an excuse to confiscate the building.

The PCC has even attempted to make the Garden fail financially by blocking revenue-generating measures such as a gift shop, advertising and signage.

We need full disclosure of any possible PCC conflict of interest. We need to know how much, if any, each PCC board member will gain financially from the conversion of the Garden to a convention center.

Welman, the chairman of the PCC board blanched when I said the phrase conflict of interest in a public meeting. We must not let this slide.

If the Garden close, thousands of endangered tropical plants and hundreds of endangered animals no longer living anywhere in the wild will end up in the trash. There will be no way ever to get them back.

Who Are the Villains?

Mayor Lowe has flatly stated he is going to have his convention centre and casino. He does not care what the public think. He drives a gas-guzzling Jeep that has even never been offroad. Some of the PPC members admitted they had never even visited Crystal Garden. Chairman Bill Wellburn is CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Coast Capital who presumably will benefit financially from the deal. City council relaxed the pollution cleanup requirements on a property beside Crystal Garden which then immediately sold, taking it out of the running as a logic site for the convention centre.

The villains baldly state, we can make more money from a casino and convention center than a home for endangered species. If money is their only criterion, why not go whole hog and turn it into an opium den and brothel? I respond, "Go ahead and have your convention center and casino. There is lots of unused land in the vicinity. Leave the Garden alone. They will help bring you customers."

The Politicians

Politcians Controlling the Crystal Garden Closure
email name stance Bill Wellburn, chairman the Pacific Capital Commission. He is also chairman of the board of Coast Capital Savings. He is up for reelection. It would be nice if he lost that position. destroyer
Mayor Allan Lowe destroyer Councillor Chris Coleman  
Councillor Rob Fleming (now MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) ) halo
Councillor Dean Fortin (now mayor)  
Councillor Bea Holland  
Councillor Helen Hughes Councillor Pamela Madoff halo
Councillor Denise Savoie (now federal MP (Member of Parliament) ) halo Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe Premier Gordon Campbell destroyer Murray Coell, Minister of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services destroyer Mr. Jeff Bray Liberal MLA Victoria-Beacon Hill destroyer The Honourable Ida Chong, Minister of State for Women’s and Senior’s Services destroyer David Anderson, Federal Minister of the Environment destroyer

Denise Savoie’s Response


We discussed the subject at Committee of the Whole last week and I expressed my concern at that time over the abominable process and the loss of the conservation centre. I feel the PCC did not consider the importance of the rôle of a conservation centre in their decision. However, we were advised at this meeting that the PCC was going to close the Conservation Centre no matter what. They have made it very clear their decision was final. I therefore introduced a motion that the City request in a letter to the PCC that the animals be treated according to international conservation protocol and that we satisfy ourselves that this be the case. Faced with the reality that the Capital commission has put the Crystal out for requests for proposals, I felt that it could end up with the private sector where we will have absolutely no control over what happens there. Faced with a bad choice, I decided I had to protect the interests of the City to keep in public hand and accepted this evening that the city take part in the requests for proposals.

As a former commissioner on the PCC who supported this conservation project when it was started, I am disgusted and angry by the lack of process for this very important public facility. And I am sorry if my decision disappoints you but I feel we had no other option.


My Letter to Monday Magazine

I sent this letter to

The animals in Crystal Garden will nearly all have to be euthanised when the Mayor Lowe closes it to turn it into a convention centre and casino. Why? These animals are mostly endangered species. Some live nowhere else in the world but the Crystal Garden. Man has destroyed their native habitats. There is nowhere they can go. Other conservations centers have no space or budget. Even if there were suitable native habitat, it is a major undertaking to introduce animals in a conservation centre back into the wild. Check out some of the National Geographic videos at the library to learn why.

Crystal Garden is not a zoo; it is a conservation center for endangered species. The animals chosen are small and live in spacious, clean surroundings. Crystal Garden is the last chance many of these species have to avoid extinction.

Similarly, all the rare tropical plants over a metre tall will all be destroyed as well because they are too large to transplant.

Please urge Mayor Lowe to call off this slaughter.


Protesters gather every Thursday noon usually at Pandora and Broad Street. Come along. The next protests are in front of the legislature 2004-05-20 Thursday at noon and 2004-05-22 Saturday at noon in front of the Crystal Garden.


The convention centre has withdrawn its bid to take over the Crystal Garden. It remains to be seen what happens to the casino and other commercial bids. This may just be a backroom deal to make it easier for the commercial bids.

Breaking News

It is official: The backroom deal the PCC has been cooking is with Mel Cooper and Canadian Geographic. Today’s Weekend edition has Mel Cooper and Gary McArtie admitting they have had a proposal in the works for two years for a Experience/Attraction for the Crystal Garden Conservation Centre. This makes the Request For Proposal process an obvious dirty done deal!

The casino and convention centre were red herring so people would be happy with this deal which is not quite so disgusting an end for the Garden.

McArtie was in the Crystal Last August measuring (with the staff being told to co-operate fully) 6 months before the RFP (Request For Proposal) call. So how is anyone supposed to compete with that? And remember all the people picking the proposal are in Mel Cooper’s personal speed dial!

Please call CFAX at (250) 386-1070 or newsdesk (250) 381-6397 and express your concern that Mel Cooper is stealing Victoria’s Crystal Garden Conservation Centre in concert with Canadian Geographic and that this is news, in that the process was rotten.

Also please contact the Canadian Geographic at 1-800-267-0824 and inform them of your disgust at their intention to destroy a conservation centre at the gardens. If you have a subscription you should suggest your cancellation.

For those of you interested either Ray Parks or Bill Wellburn will be speaking Tuesday evening at Oak Bay council.


The protests were unsuccessful. The gardens were stripped and a computer-based tourist attraction replaced it. It soon closed from lack of interest. I am glad the evil bastards lost their shirts.

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