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Protesters defend Juan de Fuca Trail
More than 300 people rallied downtown Wednesday to oppose a tourism development proposed near the Juan de Fuca Trail.
“Don’t Fuca with the Juan de Fuca,” and “Stop the sprawl,” read signs held by the group that braved the weather in front of Capital Regional District headquarters.
The proposal by Ender Ilkay calls for the phased development over 20 years of 257 tourist cabins, two recreation centres and six caretaker residences.
The project would sprawl over 33 hectares, bordering Crown land and parkland. Another 203 hectares would remain undeveloped.
The land in question is part of a much larger tract of forest removed from the tree-farm licence in 2007 by the provincial government. Despite a report by the Auditor General criticizing the decision as not sufficiently considering the public’s interest, the move opened up 28,000 hectares of land for development. Shortly after, Western Forest Products began selling parcels.
In 2010, the Capital Regional District, in partnership with The Land Conservancy, reached an agreement in principle to purchase 2,350 hectares from Western Forest Products at a cost of $18.8 million. The lands will be protected for recreation and conservation. The CRD also rezoned large sections of the land to impose a minimum lot size for development.
The new application by Ilkay for a rezoning and development permit is being reviewed by the Capital Regional District’s Juan de Fuca land-use committee, which last met Feb. 15. That meeting was dominated by opposition, mostly from environmental activists and members of Pacheedaht First Nation. Some in favour spoke of the economic benefit of the project and improved access to the trail.
After a three-hour meeting, the committee sent the application for further referrals rather than reject it.
The Juan de Fuca Trail is a 47-kilometre wilderness hiking trail hugging Vancouver Island’s west coast. It stretches from China Beach near Jordan River, to Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew.
The proposed development would run near a 17-km stretch of trail.
“Vancouver Island’s farms and forest are being bulldozed and taken away from us at an alarming rate,” said protest organizer Jordan Dalley. “This is making our community a less sustainable place for families and is especially problematic for people of marginalized communities.”
-with files from the Sooke News Mirror