Pirjo Raits: Common sense not emotion

Being on the unpopular side of the fence is never easy, but in the case of the ruckus over the resort development being proposed by Marine Trail Holdings, it is a matter of right versus might.

Opponents do not want development anywhere close to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. They fear it will ruin the wilderness experience and bring too many people to the area. As it is now, only those who can hike in can experience the trail.

As a private landowner, Ender Ilkay has the right to go through the process of applying for a rezoning on the 583 acres he bought legally from Western Forest Products. While many may not like it, that is the law. A lot of time, consideration and input went into creating bylaws that are the best overall. In the end Ilkay may not get approval, but he has the right to try.

The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area land-use committee saw this as legitimate and five out of seven members voted to allow the proposal to proceed to the next step. This may have been in response to the call for a full vote by the entire Capital Regional District board on land use in the JDFEA, which would take away the committee’s responsibility for the vote.

It wasn’t the first time the voting structure was called into question. The previous area director had initiated a three-person system, with directors voting who were not in the abutting area. The province agreed that system was improper and changed it back to the system still in place today.

On April 21, Ida Chong, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, denied a request made by the CRD board to change the voting structure. She stated in a letter to chair Geoff Young, “The CRD is equipped with tools that provide the board with alternative approaches to address concerns that the board may have about its interest in a regional land-use matter.”

There has been much protest against the way the provincial government allowed Western Forest Products to take its land out of TFL 25 and sell it to pay off debt. But again, this was a private landowner.

Angry activists and confused locals battled it out at a number of town hall meetings. Friends and neighbours disagreed and tempers flared. Those protests and accusations went on for two years and have rolled over onto the rezoning application of Marine Trail Holdings. The whole issue should be one of legal rights and freedoms under the current regulations. No one wants to be told what they can and cannot do on their land.

The proposed development area is made up of seven parcels of land, some of which lie close to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. The trail was built on land containing second-growth trees, not old-growth forest. It is a beautiful trail and deserves protection. No one is proposing ruining the trail or the public’s enjoyment of it.

Of the 583 acres owned by Marine Trail Holdings, 245 will be dedicated parkland.

It is also a phased development over 20 years and if the first phase doesn’t sell, there is little chance the rest will be developed.

Perhaps the CRD could look at how the first phase develops out and have some type of restriction on further building approvals if the first phase doesn’t live up to expectations. We are talking about 263 hectares out of 132,000 hectares in the Rural Resource Lands.

The Regional Growth Strategy and the Official Community Plan for the Rural Resource Lands both support access to the ocean and appropriately-scaled recreational uses. If the scale of the proposed development is too large, then negotiation should take place. There is a reasonable way to allow all of the issues to be addressed on both sides – if the will is there.

In 2010 the CRD spent $18.8 million on land in the Juan de Fuca/Sooke area to acquire Sandcut Beach and other areas. With no more money to buy land at this time, there is little chance for further acquisitions anytime soon. Chances are the environmentalists can’t afford it, either.

What is called for is some reasonable dialogue – between the CRD and the proponent only – with both sides coming to some sort of mutually beneficial agreement. Having heard the arguments from all quarters, it is time to let them do their jobs without being inundated with more rhetoric.

If the future is eco-tourism, let it be available to everyone, not just the physically able. Personally, I would look forward to a day-long hike along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail or the beach and then a long leisurely evening in front of a fireplace in a warm cabin. How bad can that be?

Pirjo Raits is editor of the Sooke News Mirror.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of deceased Hells Angels prospect from Sooke to be divided between wife and secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

Sooke resident Nathan Hanson popped both his driver’s side tires on a pothole near a construction site on Sooke Road. Hanson said he was following a line of traffic and was just before the 17 Mile Pub when he drove over the pothole. (Photo contributed/Nathan Hanson)
Driver blows two tires on pothole near construction site on Sooke Road

Ministry of Transportation says keeping highways in good condition a priority

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

On Feb. 27, a construction vehicle remained on the site of the former encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue as part a clean-up effort. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Encampment between Pat Bay Highway, McKenzie Avenue cleared, all residents relocated

Efforts to disband encampment resumed after January fire

Rebecca Lang of Any Thyme Gardening installed a seed exchange library in front of her home on Beechwood Avenue. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Victoria gardeners scramble to create local seed exchanges

Fairfield resident’s seed exchange an instant hit

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Vancouver Islander selected to Canada’s first-ever national skateboard team

Courtenay’s Shay Sandiford has his eye on qualifying for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Most Read