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Stop work order lifted on Sooke hatchery project

Council takes quick action to reverse last week’s move
Dave Saunders, hard at work at the new Charters River salmon hatchery, says that recent setbacks have made fund raising for the project more difficult. (Tim Collins/ Sooke News Mirror)

A stop work order, issued May 23 by the District of Sooke, that shut down work on the new Charters Creek Hatchery has been lifted.

On Monday night, council hurriedly passed a series of motions to address what Mayor Maja Tait characterized as a crisis. Those motions allowed for exemptions for a number of building requirements at the hatchery site.

The move allowed what interim chief administrative officer Don Schaffer characterized as an act of good faith on the part of the district to immediately lift the stop work order.

It’s still expected that the documentation required by the district will be provided in a timely manner.

RELATED: Stop work order at hatchery devastates volunteers

The CRD is now a proponent of the project and it’s the district’s intention to remain in close contact with the CRD so that it can stay informed on the progress on the project.

“We don’t want to see communication break down again,” Schaffer said.

And while the CRD has accepted what Schaffer described as the “liability to get whatever information is required” to the district, the project remains a volunteer-driven project.

Former Sooke mayor Wendal Milne has assumed part of the coordinating role for the project after longtime volunteer Wally Vowels resigned in protest when the stop work order was issued.

“I think that the greatest harm that’s been done involves the disappointment level of the volunteers,” Milne said.

“They are frustrated and it would have been better (for the district) to have reached out a helping hand and say, ‘How can we help you?’ rather than shutting down work. The whole process wasn’t necessary and it’s left a bad taste in the mouths of volunteers.”

ALSO READ: $1-million salmon hatchery eyed for Sooke

Milne stressed that it’s his hope everyone can move beyond this episode.

“There’s no sense in finger pointing. We have great volunteers and community support, so let’s focus on the positive,” he said.

He acknowledged the work of Bob Lapham, the CRD’s chief administrative officer, who stepped up to help resolve the outstanding issues on the project.

At council, Tait also acknowledged the great work of the volunteers and pointed out that Carl Wilkinson, a civil technologist with J.E. Anderson Engineering, volunteered his work to help get the necessary documentation put together to allow for a building permit to be issued.

“This whole project is volunteer driven and we really do appreciate what all of these incredible volunteers are doing for our community,” Tait said.

“I’m certain that, moving forward, we’ll be doing everything we can to make this project a success.”

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