Thursday, June 23, 2016

Saanich News: Diversity of Maltby Lake is worth protecting

Gillian Harvey, left, Carmel Thomson, Patrick Brown
and MLA Lana Popham stand outside the B.C.
Supreme Court in February 2015.

Image Credit: Jane Brown Photo
Reprinted from the Saanich News, June 21 2016

This week, I’m excited to introduce you to one of Saanich’s hidden gems: Maltby Lake.

Few are aware of this extraordinary place even though it’s in the heart of Saanich and just 10 kilometers from downtown Victoria. There is no place closer to the provincial capital that surpasses Maltby Lake in terms of ecological value or wild beauty.

Freshwater jellyfish and sponges have existed in the lake for thousands of years and the area is home to painted turtles, horned owls, beavers and many other local and even endangered species.

Not only is Maltby Lake phenomenally diverse but it also plays an important role in our regional waterway. The lake itself is filled with drinkable water continually recharged by multiple underground springs and it is at the headwaters of the Tod Creek Watershed – the second largest watershed in Saanich.

Maltby Lake and the surrounding 172 acres of undisturbed forest and wetlands are privately owned by members of an extended family. Two of the longtime co-owners, Carmel and Woody Thomson, deserve special recognition as they have worked tirelessly to protect its ecological integrity.

Last April, the Supreme Court of B.C. accepted a restructuring plan and agreement to sell a 29 per cent interest in the Maltby Lake property to Carmel and Woody Thomson for $750,000. That agreement requires them to dedicate the land as a park and conservation area. In effect, Woody and Carmel Thomson made a $750,000 donation to protect Maltby.

But Malty Lake is still not fully protected. Until the property has a conservation legal status, perhaps similar to Swan Lake, we cannot be sure its ecological integrity will be protected for generations to come.

Many organizations have done excellent work to protect Maltby Lake. They include the Peninsula Streams Society, Friends of Tod Creek Watershed, Habitat Acquisition Trust, Prospect Lake District Community Association, Prospect Lake Heritage Society, B.C. Lake Stewardship Society, Highlands District Community Association, the Highland Stewardship Foundation and the Sierra Club of B.C. Foundation.

There are also many local residents actively involved. They have formed the Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society. I am pleased to report that under the remarkable leadership of Joan Hendricks, Diane Carr, Anne Russo and Jenn Potter, the Friends have very recently became a federally registered charitable organization.

I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank these individuals for their hard work and dedication to protecting Maltby Lake.

I’m confident that if we work together, we can achieve this goal. The Friends are actively fundraising at this time. I urge readers to visit their website,, and to consider making a donation.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to contact me about this matter or with any other concerns about provincial governance. My phone number is 250-479-4154 and my email is

Lana Popham is the MLA for South Saanich.