A selection of some of the stories that made the news in 2013.
January 9, 2103
First Nation offered Jordan River lands
The lands that sit beyond Diversion Dam and Bear Creek are the traditional hunting grounds for the T’Sou-ke First Nation. They are an important part of the identity of and history of the T’Sou-ke people as well as the Pacheedaht. Now it appears the two bands will be able to purchase those lands which once held First Nations’ villages.
On Dec. 21, the Capital Regional District announced the acquisition of the final parcels of park land from Western Forest Products. The 57 hectares in Jordan River is valued at $4.5 million. The Jordan River Regional Park Reserve was established in 2010 when the CRD acquired approximately 180 hectares of Jordan River land from the forestry company.
Lands north of Highway 14/West Coast Rd. have been deemed surplus to regional park needs and will be offered for sale to the Pacheedaht and the T’Sou-ke First Nations. They are the lands defined as JR2 and JR3 and include the old Jordan River town site.
Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director, Mike Hicks is pleased with the decision.
“I’m very pleased that this is actually going to happen,” said Hicks. “I’m hoping the government is going to get involved.”
Hicks would like to see the land protected as a regional park.
February 20, 2103
New CAO at district
Sooke’s new Chief Administrative Officer Gord Howie landed in Sooke just over two weeks ago and he is getting to know the council, staff and community.
Howie comes from Prince Rupert where he was the CAO for seven years along with a stint as city administrator back in the 1980s.
May 1, 2103
New Silver Spray plans emerge
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.
May 22, 2013
Liberal win leaves NDP despondent
The votes are in and NDP incumbent John Horgan will serve another four years in the B.C. legislature.
Horgan said he is pleased to have been successful and even with a Liberal majority he will continue to do his best. He had every expectation of the NDP forming the next government.
Horgan said there is no Liberal representation in the Capital Regional District and only two Liberal members on Vancouver Island.
“It means the government will have to work extra hard to understand the issues here. I’m hopeful Christy will talk to us.”
Horgan in analyzing their loss, said it seems to demonstrate that a negative campaign is a successful campaign. He said Adrian Dix stuck to the issues while the Liberals bombarded the public for 18 months on the negativity of Dix and the NDP.
“It put doubts in their (the voters) minds. It’s no excuse,” said Horgan, “we didn’t run a very good campaign. It clearly was not a winning campaign or the outcome would have been different.”
Horgan also felt that the results show an “Americanization” of British Columbia with two parties.
Fire devastates local businesses
A structurally devastating fire ripped through the front part of the Evergreen Mall at 6660 Sooke Road on July 31 in Sooke. The Sooke Dance Studio and RBC Royal Bank offices are completely demolished, and the offices from end-to-end in the front section are completely unsalvageable.
The fire started at around five in the morning and at one point was fairly contained. A firefighter said the spaces between the walls allowed the fire to spread rapidly within the building, shooting from office to office.
“We have the Sooke News Mirror, there’s an insurance office, there a dance studio upstairs, (and) a software company. The majority of the upstairs was vacant,” said Fire Chief Steve Sorenson when he spoke to the media.
“At this point,” Sorensen continued, “we’re calling it a suspicious fire. It appears it may have started at the back, at the rear of the bank building.” When asked if it started in the dumpster, Sorensen replied, “We’re not too sure what it is at this point, but it’s definitely suspicious.”
August 28, 2013
Plans for resort development moving ahead
The Cheanuh campground, owned by the Beecher Bay First Nations (also referred to as Scia’new), has announced they are going full steam ahead with converting their campground into a town resort. As stated in their press release, “The Scianew First Nation welcomes its partner, the Trust for Sustainable Development in moving forward with the Spirit Bay sustainable resort town development on its Beecher Bay lands 30 minutes from Victoria, BC.”
“September 2 we’ll start cleaning, and then we will be out here marking lots and getting ready, and we’ll be registering people who have an interest in buying a home and living out here or working out here,” said David Butterfield, the developer and owner of TSD.
The sales will not be for permanent ownership, but for a 99-year lease.
September 18, 2103
SEAPARC to be the site of bike skills park
At the end of Sooke’s great debate, whether or not a bike park would be developed at John Phillips Memorial Park (JPMP), Mayor Wendal Milne aptly said, “Half of you are going to go home mad, and half of you are going to go home happy.”
Those who did not want to see a bike park developed at JPMP were among those who went home happy. On September 23, beginning at 7 p.m., the Committee of the Whole, met to receive public input, and then to establish a direction for the Sooke bike park. Due to the volume of people expected to attend, the meeting was held at the Sooke Community Hall. The community did not disappoint, as the meeting was well attended.
Option three, the option ultimately moved and passed, read as follows: “That the Committee of the Whole recommend Council give direction to staff to work with the Sooke Bike Club, SEAPARC, and the Sooke Community Assocation to secure agreements and funding to refurbish the existing bike skills area and expand the existing facility into Throup Road Park to accommodate all bike skill levels;
and to bring back a report to Council on the bike skills park funding for approval prior to entering into an agreement or the commencement of the works.”
November 27, 2013
Leech watershed threatened
A motion brought before the CRD Regional Water Supply Commission on November 20 has Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks on the lookout.
A motion was presented to the commission by Ted Robbins, General Manager, Integrated Water Services (CRD) to close public access to the Leech Water Supply Area.
“The motion brought forward would close the Leech watershed for everyone forever,” said Hicks.
He said Mayor Wendal Milne and himself suggest in the strongest terms to consult the public before anything happens in the watershed. He said there are 300,000 residents in the CRD and consultation should happen.
“By their own admission they wouldn’t even consider using this water for 15 years. Water consumption is going down, they may never have to use it,” said Hicks. “When you have a weighted vote, we would like to see the community be aware of this. We need to start making some noise that we want to be consulted.”