For the past four years acrimony, anger and protests have followed both Mike Hicks and Ender Ilkay around like the plague.
Hicks, in his capacity as the regional director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, and developer Ilkay have faced the angry hoards who wanted no development of any kind in the Juan de Fuca area.
It began when the provincial government allowed Western Forest Products to release lands for sale from their TFL 25, and continued when Ilkay purchased land and wanted to put in a resort first in Jordan River and then in the Bear Creek area. The opposition forces made each of those ideas impossible and on Sept. 9 Hicks finally gave up on the process and stated he would deny Ilkay’s latest application to rezone land for a resort.
Hicks said he was disappointed and that he had talked to everyone and made the decision to follow the wishes of his constituents in the JDFEA.
“The bottom line for me was my constituents didn’t want it.”
He said there was four options and he did what was best for the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
His first option would have been to leave the zoning as is; log it; work with the developer or get the government to buy it.
“We exhausted that possibility,” said Hicks in regard to a purchase by the government.
He said it was a “tremendous project” and was the best possible proposal, as Ilkay was giving up 86 per cent of his land for preservation.
He said his decision was not because of the efforts of the environmental activists but his constituents in the JDF.
“Port Renfrew was not interested in it, Shirley and Jordan River didn’t want it. It fell apart, society just didn’t want it. I don’t want the Juan de Fuca to die a death of a thousand cuts (like Silver Spray),” said Hicks. What was best for the JDF residents was to deny it. “I gave a million hours of thinking on it, I didn’t fold.”
He said the best option left would be for the government to purchase it and he would encourage the government to buy the land and make it a part of Juan de Fuca Park.
He said that if Ilkay has to log it, so be it, he has a right to do just that.
He reiterated that he was not swayed by the environmental activists but by logic and passion.
“The decision was the easy part, the tough part was standing up for the process,” said Hicks.
Ender Ilkay sounded resigned and disappointed when asked, ‘what was next?’ He said, “what choice have I left. I don’t know, it’s almost surreal.”
He said the environmental activists were instrumental in organizing opposition to the resort plan.
The only option he may have is resource extraction on the property. He said he fought hard for two-and-a-half years and his proposal would have preserved a huge swath of property. Now he is left with the current zoning and he said the land shouldn’t be logged.
He was adament in stating that there was a lot of misinformation out there throughout the process, including that statement that this development should be turned down to “save the forest.” He said access to Bear Beach was never public and now people will have no legal access to it.
“There are a lot of people, normal folks who are passionate about the trail and park, I get that, I respect that,” he said.
He said there are groups out there that are in the protest business and that’s what they do. They are dependent on conflict.
When it was mentioned that people are just now beginning to state their approval of his project, Ilkay said, “people lead busy lives and they think this is a good idea but they don’t mobilize, they carry on with their busy lives, we didn’t hear them.”
He said millions in economic opportunity and employment were chased away.
“Sooke is a great community. When I look at the Juan de Fuca region — I love the area, love the people — it’s an incredibly difficult place to do business, through no fault of the people.”
The final decision will be made at the Capital Regional District Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 14.