Pam and Bruce Tobin of North Saanich live next to an industrial parking lot at Pauquachin First Nation. A Langford-based excavation business is renting the space and area residents want the municipality to do something about the noise as well as the traffic safety issued caused by parked heavy machinery. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Pam and Bruce Tobin of North Saanich live next to an industrial parking lot at Pauquachin First Nation. A Langford-based excavation business is renting the space and area residents want the municipality to do something about the noise as well as the traffic safety issued caused by parked heavy machinery. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Industrial parking lot on First Nations land rattles North Saanich residents

Pam and Bruce Tobin among Kleewyck Road residents concerned about noise and traffic safety

Several North Saanich residents living next to the Pauquachin First Nation have renewed calls on the municipality to prohibit the use of a narrow road for commercial traffic to an industrial parking lot.

Bruce and Pam Tobin find themselves most directly impacted as their Kleewyck Road lot borders the parking lot on the other side of the line between the municipality and the reserve. Aaron Cole Excavating – a Langford-based business – is renting the lot from Pauquachin resident Chris Henry as a fleet parking lot for heavy-duty vehicles and machinery.

“We are concerned that the enjoyment of our property and the property value has gone down a lot. Every morning we are woken up by these loud trucks. It’s damaging the road and it is putting us at risk,” said Pam.

Kleewyck is a narrow, rural road that winds off West Saanich Road toward a small group of oceanfront homes nestled among trees. Trucks have to use a narrower, unpaved road just beyond the municipal border to access the parking lot, which the Tobins can see from their backyard.

The intersection of Kleewyck and the access road to the parking lot was the site of an early morning incident on Dec. 30.

RELATED: Pauquachin First Nation calls on North Saanich to help restore shellfish in Coles Bay

The incident started with owner Aaron Cole starting up one of his trucks just before 7 a.m. The engine noise rattled Pam into action. “I said to Bruce, ‘I’m going up there. I am going to stand in my white nightgown and my pink umbrella and I am just going to stand there on the side of the road and let him see me,’” she said.

Bruce later joined his wife and Sidney/North Saanich RCMP were called.

The incident was the latest between Cole and the Tobins over the parking lot that dates back to July 2019 when the neighbour informed them he would be renting to the business.

The Tobins and three other couples on the road petitioned the municipality in late October 2020, asking North Saanich to post a sign prohibiting the use of the road by dump trucks and large trailers carrying excavating equipment, except in the service of residents.

Rebecca Penz, communications manager for the District of North Saanich, said council did not offer any direction, but directed Mayor Geoff Orr and chief administrative officer Tim Tanton to approach the Pauquachin chief and band administrator to discuss potential resolutions. No meeting has been scheduled yet. According to Penz, the district had first approached the band last January, apparently unsuccessfully.

Penz pointed out that district bylaws do not apply, as the property lies outside municipal boundaries.

The Peninsula News Review reached out to the Pauquachin First Nation, but did not receive comment by deadline.

Bruce Tobin stressed their complaint is with the business, not the neighbour.

Cole said he is using the area to park “equipment from time to time” because “it is so hard to find commercial space to park on the Peninsula,” adding later that he is a young entrepreneur with five years experience who lacks the money to buy commercial property. Cole said he is on waiting lists for such property and doing “everything in his power to get out of there.”

He acknowledged that the situation is “not the greatest” for neighbours, but has a deal to stay four years.

Cole declined to provide details of his arrangement with Henry, deferring questions to him. Henry, in turn, declined to speak to the Peninsula News Review.

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP would not discuss the Dec. 30 incident, citing privacy reasons.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula