About 50 people showed up for the Capital Regional District’s public consultation on the Jordan River Park boundary at the Sooke Community Hall on Feb. 22.
“We want to hear from the community on the future park boundary. First of all, what is the value of the area, what land should become this park and [what] land should be declared as surplus?” said Jeff Ward, CRD parks manager of planning and resource development.
A majority of residents attended seeking clarification on how the CRD was determining surplus and information on the land parcels.
Pascale Knoglinger, BC Rural Network board member, had concerns that residents were not able to properly provide input on boundaries without a park evaluation. She also expressed concern about the land zoning of the parcels near Jordan River, and whether or not the surpluses would be sold back to industry.
Others expressed concern about the severity of contamination found in the Jordan River land parcels, and whether or not seller Western Forest Products could clean it in time for the August 2012 land transfer to CRD.
Bob Phillips, school board trustee, said not enough research was done to determine the value of surplus land over time.
“I have a hard time getting my head around any surplus in that land across the long run or if it is, should the decision not be made another 10, 15, 20 years out?”
Ward said CRD purchased the 187 hectares of park reserve land — now Jordan River Regional Park Reserve — from WFP in 2010 to protect the beach access along the Juan de Fuca Strait.
But he added the CRD was required to purchase the lands in legally defined parcels, resulting in the possession of land that did not have park value — namely, land north of West Coast Road.
“We only have so much money to buy land, so we’ve got to be really efficient in our use of our money,” he said, adding that any funds from surpluses sold would be used to pay off remaining debts from the $9.5 million purchase.
The 187 hectares were part of 2,350 hectares purchased from WFP for $18.8 million. The land was acquired for watershed protection and park land reserves, and is to be paid over three years. The land was paid for through the CRD Land Acquisition Fund, The Land Conservancy, the province and individual donors.
The park itself stretches for 3.5 km between Sandcut Beach and Jordan River. Two parcels of land, including Sandcut Beach were transferred in 2010-2011. Remaining parcels east of Jordan River will be transferred in 2012.
According to a CRD information kit, public comments from the meetings will be consolidated into a report for the CRD Regional Parks Committee and Board. A decision on the boundary is set for the summer of 2012.
A second public consultation was held in Victoria the following day.