The Capital Regional District board has turned down a proposal to split a 10-hectare parcel of East Sooke into two because directors found no agricultural advantage.
The board voted 3-1 to reject the zoning on Wednesday. Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was the lone dissenter.
Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) applied to the CRD to divide 6040 East Sooke Rd. into two parcels of 6.2 and four hectares. RCM-SAR intends to sell the four-hectare parcel.
Rezoning was unanimously rejected earlier by the Juan de Fuca land use committee.
“We could see no benefit to the agricultural through the subdivision of the subject property and allow for the increase in the number of non-farm buildings, impact on land security and water usage,” Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Al Wickheim said.
“This is about the people in East Sooke talking about the land and whether they wish to see their agricultural land fragmented.”
The board heard from four delegates who opposed the plan during Wednesday’s meeting. They raised concerns about food security and agricultural land preservation.
“Food security is essential for the well-being of our community,” Nancy Jane Hewitt, an East Sooke resident, said.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was concerned the decision was made without consultation from T’Sou-ke Nation.
“It goes against the spirit of the board’s reconciliation statement where we are looking to evolve together on matters occurring on traditional territories,” said Tait, chair of the CRD’s First Nations Relations committee.
“It contravenes everything we’re trying to achieve.”
RCM-SAR purchased the East Sooke acreage from the Sisters of St. Ann to use as a training centre for members across the province in 2012. The property cost $1.5 million.
“As a (search and rescue) organization, farming is not our raison d’etre. We looked at how we could best achieve some agricultural use for the land, and subdivision seemed to be a way to push that property on for agricultural purposes,” Bill Riggs, executive director of RCM-SAR, told Black Press Media last month.
“We’re always looking for financial stability as a not-for-profit (organization). Selling the property would help us achieve some of that.”
Riggs said unless the property is subdivided, the property won’t be sold.
The property has been linked to a controversial land-based seaweed aquaculture facility proposed by Synergraze Sustainable Agriculture and T’Sou-ke Nation. RCM-SAR and T’Sou-ke Nation say they have not talked about buying or selling the land.