Each side continues to defend their right to legally do what they are entitled to do.
On one side you have a developer who wants to build a resort community on lands in the Juan de Fuca, and on the other, a vocal contingent of environmentalists who decry every move made by developer Ender Ilkay.
On April 4, a group calling themselves Free Miners staked a mineral claim on 400 hectares of Ilkay’s property. Free Miners last showed their teeth when they used the same tactic at Bear Mountain Resort in Langford.
It’s all part of the fight to retain forest lands close to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail which some think will be ruined if Ilkay’s development gets approved.
This latest tactic is to ensure Ilkay does not decide to extract gravel and aggregate on his property if the resort plan gets turned down.
“If anyone decides to start hauling gravel, we have the right to stop and inspect each load,” says Zoe Blunt (aka Tracie Park) from the Forest Action Network in a press release. “We own all the minerals in the ground. The law also provides that free miner’s agents can enter the property for prospecting purposes.”
Ilkay said he is not in the gravel hauling business anyway.
“I’m trying to create a eco-friendly resort and an economic opportunity,” he said.
“I’m running a business and I’ve poured tens of millions directly into Vancouver Island yet groups make it difficult to do business. It gets to a point of ‘why would I ever do business here?’ I can spend my investment where it’s welcome. That’s their goal,” said Ilkay referring to the latest enviro-tactic. “It‘s a tough thing for the future of the local economy.
On April 6 Ilkay added the following statement, “My businesses have created ten of millions of dollars of investment in Vancouver Island in the past five years. I just added it up out of curiosity, and the various projects add up to a total investment value of $78 million. This includes all of the direct money that is spent in each project putting in roads and infrastructure and building of the homes. This does not include any spin off economic activity that is created in the communities where we developed projects. This also does not include any of the proposed Marine Trail Resort numbers, which will add another tens of millions if approved.”
He feels the mineral claim is just harassment and the free miners are “in the harassment business.”
“I have to trust in the integrity of the system,” said Ilkay.
He said the mineral claim does not give them any claim on gravel or above ground minerals. It is to be used for mining underground minerals, like gold or copper.
“If they find gold, they own it,” said Ilkay.
Blunt suggested mineral tenures could provide community members with forest-friendly employment.
The fear of clear-cutting the forest was slapped down by Blunt, who stated, “this is second-growth timber. It would cost more to cut and haul than it’s worth. And 70 per cent of the land is either too steep or too wet to log.”
Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks said, “I think Ms. Blunt underestimates the toughness of loggers. Rain doesn’t stop them.”
Whatever happens in the area will be decided in a matter of months. The local Land Use Committee made up of community members in the Juan de Fuca will make a recommendation to the Capital Regional District Board and then voting block A will decide whether the application goes to a Public Hearing, providing the voting structure remains as is. There are a number of CRD directors who are looking to change the vote to include all the members of the CRD board rather than just voting block A.