About 70 people attended a meeting of the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee at the Edward Milne Community School theatre on Tuesday, April 19. The large majority was on hand to express feelings or show support or opposition for a tourist resort proposal by Marine Trail Holdings for property situated between Port Renfrew and Jordan River.
The public comment portion of the meeting had a decidedly anti-development theme.
The plan involves land adjoining the Juan de Fuca Marine Park and Trail.
Landowner Ender Ilkay of Marine Trail Holdings has applied to have seven parcels in the Rural Resource Lands rezoned to make way for a resort which would, over a timeframe of about 15 years include 257 cabins, six caretakers’ residences, a lodge, and two recreation centres.
Ilkay was first to make a statement and began by stating there have been nine such meetings on the matter since the proposal was first made in April, 2009. He said there is much “misinformation” circulating, including the mistaken belief that some kind of development is planned to occur within the JdF Marine Park.
“I take responsibility,” said Ilkay, “for not doing a good enough job to counter some of that mis-information.
“People are passionate about the park, there’s no question, and I completely understand that,” he said.
The businessman pointed out that the property in question is currently zoned for resource extraction, but added, “I’m not in the resource extraction business and I don’t intend to be. This proposal will permanently preserve 86 per cent of our land bordering the park. Half of this will go to BC Parks as parkland, the rest will be green space, prohibiting clear-cuts.” He stressed that the development would not be visible at all from the Juan de Fuca Trail.
Of the approximately 236 hectares involved, 33 would be developed under the Marine Trail plan, the rest to be left alone.
The plan did not sell Terri Alcock who voiced some of the sentiments of those who prefer the area be spared from development.
“There is merit in not approving the rezoning of this land,” said the Shirley resident later when her turn at the microphone came up.
“This issue is of great importance to everyone living in the Capital Region. There is no obligation to approve any proposal to amend the zoning bylaw. No developer, in fact, no one, has the right to expect that re-zoning is just a part of doing business. It is no one’s God given right to rezone.”
Proposal support from the Pacheedaht First Nation was noted at the meeting, stating that the land is within it’s traditional territory and a lumber milling operation is proving successful. Two Pacheedaht members, however, Bill and Stacy Johnson, spoke out against the resort scheme.
June Klassen, Manager of Local Area Planning Services mentioned some of the reasons for the supportive recommendations
Overall, those opposed to the plan held an edge of 14 to four.
Those against the proposal were an equal mix from the local area and locations across the Capaital Regional District. Supporters were all residents of East Sooke or points west.
Following the public comment period the several LUC members spoke on the issue – George Miller and Neil Smith speaking in favour, Ted Mehler suggesting support conditional to discussions on fire protection being included in the committee’s recommendation to the CRD Board.
Committee member Heather Phillips spoke at length, raising a number of procedural issues and questions of legality in her denouncement of the re-zoning bid, and Pat Sloan was also emphatic in speaking against the development idea, calling for a 10-year moratorium on any development in the area.
When the vote was held, the Land Use Committee elected to forward four staff recommendations to the May 11 meeting of the CRD Board:
1. That a bylaw (No. 3755) to pave the way for rezoning be given first and second reading
2. That a related phased development bylaw – with conditions relevant to fire protection concerns – be prepared for consideration
3. “That a restrictive covenant in favour of the CRD, securing the transfer of park land, restricting resource extraction, restricting buildings or structures and prohibiting tree cutting with specified provisions for tree trimming on lands identified as Area ‘B,’ be registered prior to final consideration of Bylaw No. 3755.
4. That a public hearing on Bylaw No. 3755 be held.