Michael Thornton came before District of Sooke council on Monday, April 22 with an impassioned plea to allow for blanket variances of setbacks at Silver Spray.
Thornton is looking to build 95 private residence club cottages on the 7.02 hectare property at Possession Point. Thornton was requesting a reduction of the site specific floodplain, steep slope and building setbacks from 15 metres to five metres.
The development, now called Silver Spray Destination Resort – Phase 1, would also include a club, pavilion for commercial and recreational use and a wastewater treatment plant. The developer was looking for the exemptions so building could begin on the first phase as early as this summer.
“The only way this project has a chance is if we can move it along quickly,” said Thornton.
Silver Spray has had a number of development plans over the past 17 years, with little build out on the vast property.
“For 17 years, I’ve been trying to make it work and I always believed the money would come,” said Thornton. He added that if construction could begin this summer, in spite of the economy, it could bring $24-25 million to the local economy.
“I can’t afford to lose this summer…uncertainty is the worst,” he said.
Council was unanimous in granting Silver Spray the Site Specific Floodplain Exemption from Bylaw 561 and other requested setbacks as well as issuing a Development Permit for the 95 cottages and other ancillary buildings. Council also recommended that unnecessary referral requirements be waived.
One concerned member of the public had sent in a letter to council where he/she stated there was some evidence of a high frequency of vertical cracks in the rocks at Possession Point and suggested an evaluation of the geology of the area in regard to rock fracturing and stability.
The Silver Spray lands were annexed into the District of Sooke in 2005, although they are on the western end of East Sooke, which is in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. The annexation was approved because the foreshores touch.
Original proposals divided the residents of East Sooke, leading to defamation and libel lawsuits.