The District of Sooke will spend $50,000 to make Lot A fire safe, but the work won’t include a garbage clean up for now.
The two-hectare property is located on Wadams Way between Anna Marie and Townsend roads and is owned by the district. The land will eventually house the new 10,000-square-foot Vancouver Island Regional Library and other amenities.
But the land has been a thorn in the community for several years, with squatters and transients using it as a gathering place. Garbage is often discarded there.
Last month, Coun. Rick Kasper sounded the alarm that the area is ripe for fire and possible liability against the district.
The fire department has responded to several fires on the property since April and has become problematic, said Fire Chief Kenn Mount.
“The neighbours are very supportive that they would like to see something done because of the activity there. They have expressed concern about the fire hazard and were appreciative of how quickly we’ve been able to suppress incidents in that area,” he said.
Mount attempted to get three quotes to undertake clearing and brushing, but only one company came forward with a cost estimate, which didn’t include garbage clean up.
“This is just dealing with the fire hazard and brush material,” he said.
A second staff report on the garbage clean up is expected to come before council next month.
Garbage is a problem. A recent survey by fire officials found 50 different types of garbage on 25 different locations throughout the property, ranging from abandoned campfire sites to old toilets and a smashed up boat.
Mayor Maja Tait said the problem needs to be fixed both from a fire safe and garbage perspective.
“Unfortunately when you dump garbage people tend to drop more garbage on to it. So at some point you have to eliminate all the garbage,” she said.
“We’ve been fortunate not to have a major fire.”
The brush and fire safe work on the property is expected to take two to three weeks. The district will also erect no trespassing signs on the property.