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LETTER: Time to get it right on the marina/Spewhung

The fact that Oak Bay’s infill housing strategy includes robust community engagement is a hopeful sign that our council is getting serious about working with the community it was elected to serve.

The engagement process council used for the secondary suites initiative is robust, too. So is the engagement process it is demanding of the Capital Regional Hospital District in planning the future of Oak Bay Lodge. And so is the public engagement framework and toolkit that council recently adopted.

This just underscores how inadequate the engagement around the marina/Spewhung (Turkey Head) process has been for an opportunity that has at least as much, if not more long-term significance for our community and with clearly far more potential to advance reconciliation.

To categorize the marina/Spewhung decision-making as different because it’s really just some kind of “procurement” process to “renew the marina lease” when it actually involves substantial land use and community planning decisions around publicly owned buildings, lands and waters that will affect Oak Bay for a generation feels like trying to explain away a mistake.

The community and our prospects for meaningful reconciliation shouldn’t pay the price for that.

Mayor Murdoch was right in December 2017 when he said it would take substantial consultation to get it right at Turkey Head (Spewhung). That’s why it’s wrong now to try to push things through without talking to the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations about their interest in partnership or collaboration, and without the community.

It’s time to hit “pause” or better yet, “restart” on the marina/Spewhung decision-making process. We have to get this one right; if we don’t, we (or at least our children and grandchildren) will be living with the results for the next 30 years.

Bruce Kilpatrick

Oak Bay