Open letter in regard to boat launch

Dear Mr. Parliament

CAO Evan Parliament, District of Sooke

Dear Mr. Parliament;

 

On this day, August 10, 2011, I demand that the District of Sooke cease expending funds on the ‘Boat Launch Project’ until certain issues are clarified.

It would seem that in the matter of the public boat launch, the District of Sooke is guilty of a breach of public trust; and of fraudulently representing the value of the boat launch to the motorized-boating public. Assurance was given that ample parking would be available, and that vehicles and trailers would be accommodated.  Sooke would once again have a public boat launch for the fishing community.

Not only was the boating public given that assurance, but those who administered the Building Canada Fund-Communities Component, were also given the same assurance. All documents, the application report to the Building Canada Fund, Sooke Zoning Bylaw 416, and Development Permit #PLN00726,  make mention of parking for vehicles and trailers.

Specifically, Bylaw 416 and DP#PLN00726 state that no less than 19 spaces be available for truck/trailer parking. In detail there were to be 12 spaces at 40 feet; eight spaces at 33 feet; one space at 29.5 feet; and two trailer only spaces, for a total of 23.

Measurements carried out of August 7, 2011, found the following: eight spaces at 26.5 feet + 7.5 feet of sidewalk (34 feet); four spaces at 21 feet + 7.5 feet of sidewalk (28.5 feet); six spaces at 22.5 feet + 7.5 feet of sidewalk (30 feet); and two spaces for cars, for a total of 20.

We trailer a 19-ft Glassply behind a 3/4 ton pick-up and require 42 1/2 feet of parking space.  We also trailer a 12-ft aluminum boat with the same truck, and would require 34 feet to park.

The parking required in both district legal documents has not been provided. It is obvious that the boat launch will never be the amenity promised in return for the expenditure on the property. Yes, car-toppers, kayaks and canoes will perhaps use the site, but these are not the craft used by fishermen in local waters. The much-touted draw for tourism and world class fishing was simply a means to win support for the hotel.  The boat launch project and the property purchase  were part of the ‘Agreement’ with Prestige Hotel and they will be the sole beneficiary.

The Development Permit has been breached in a number of ways: failure to provide the parking as per the DP; the requirement for a grasscrete surface on the parking areas; the changes to the layout at the waters edge for the turn around, the failure on the properties to indicate in any way the change in property lines given by subdivision.  In fact at the time the subdivision was put to paper, we were told that would provide the necessary parking.

I also have in my possession a series of staff e-mails which make it clear that there is a short-fall of at least $440,000 needed to complete the project, and some interesting suggestions as to how to put the numbers to council. Some of the contents read as follows:

“An error at the outset of the project where the 200K from Prestige for the pier was misallocated. 100K for the unexpected costs of the boat launch land based works The key is – have we been authorized by council to do the work we are doing and spending the funds we propose to do… Just want everyone to be aware that this could be a major criticism of staff if it is not clear to council and the public.

Also – we must ensure that the whole boat launch and boardwalk will be public property. And we must ensure that we have amended our tenure licence and grant application if necessary.”

It is also obvious that a new contract has been awarded, or is to be awarded, to Heavy Metal, to do with the installation of the pier and boardwalk.

This project must not continue until these issues are put before the public and all questions answered. This should not be about providing amenities for Prestige Hotel. It must be about accountability and responsibility to the taxpaying public.

Gail Hall

Sooke

Editor’s note: Read Evan

Parliament’s response on page 11