CRD buys land for ‘future of the salmon stocks’

The Capital Regional District’s park reserve is expected to grow even bigger, as it plans to buy two lots for parkland on Sooke River Road.

The Capital Regional District’s park reserve is expected to grow even bigger, as it plans to buy two lots for parkland on Sooke River Road.

Both riverfront lots, located at 2540 and 2548 Sooke River Rd. (totaling 6.47 hectares) will be bought through the CRD Regional Parks Land Acquisition Fund for $1,199,000.

The properties provide the only access to the Sooke River’s Pemberton pool, a critical spawning area for the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society that has provided chinook and coho brood stock to the local hatchery for the last 30 years.

This, noted CRD Regional Parks Committee Chair Mike Hicks, is why the purchase is so important to the Sooke region.

“The CRD directors felt that it was imperative to secure this property for the future of the salmon stocks, Sooke River, T’Sou-ke Nation and South Island residents,” he said.

The purchase was made through the land acquisition fund, which has a levy rate of  $20 per average residential household assessment. The levy generates approximately $3.7 million each year, and since 2000, CRD Regional Parks has purchased 4,491 hectares of land totaling $49 million.

Hicks pointed out that a chunk of the purchase comes from the CRD’s recent deal with B.C. Hydro, which paid $3.2 million for the lands at Jordan River.

In addition to salmon enhancement, the property is situated close to the Galloping Goose trail, which runs through old growth forest.

The CRD anticipates the land acquisition will be completed this August, though the property will remain closed to the public, with the exception of the T’Sou-ke First Nation and the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society.

Hicks said CRD Parks will take at least a year to plan what to do with the land, such as whether to add in picnic tables, what kind of access to provide, should there be vehicles or not or if it’s a walking trail only off the Galloping Goose.

“All these factors have to be determined first, so we need to consult with the residents who live in proximity to these properties,” he said.