The CRD Land Use Committee A voted to move Ender Ilkay’s controversial Marine Trail Holdings development to public hearing this afternoon, in the next stage of a process that has been contentious ever since it was first brought to the board.
Committee members Mike Hicks, Langford Councillor Lanny Seaton, Sooke Mayor Janet Evans, and Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders voted in favour, while Metchosin Mayor John Ranns voted against the project and maintained his disdain for how the board has dealt with the issue.
“Our primary concern is to determine the public will,” he said. “Nobody can honestly say the public wants this. The first of our tests as public officials has failed.”
Ranns said the land use committee had been “seduced” by planning staff into thinking that the logistics of the project were more important than public opinion.
He also denied Hick’s claim that the development was the only way to protect the 12,000 hectares of land from being clear-cut, and suggested it could be turned into an amenity which would provide economic support for surrounding communities the way Pacific Rim National Park has been a tourist boom for Tofino and Ucluelet.
Hicks said in a prepared speech that if rezoning was approved, the developer would not build within 150 metres of the trail and that this was not the beginning of sprawling development between Jordan River and Port Renfew.
He said the government wasn’t interested in buying the land after it went up for sale, even after he repeatedly asked them. He said Marine Trail Holdings would preserve the land through park dedication and put 86 per cent of it into a land covenant.
“We can preserve and create an old-growth forest, buffering the circle route highway and marine trail… or we can expose 100 per cent of these lands to the cycle of clear-cut logging,” he said.
Several members of the whole board, who do not have the right to vote on the motion, expressed worry and pushed the land use committee to reconsider the decision or refer it to the board for advice.
The board also voted to receive a staff report from Director Vic Derman questioning the access to fire services for users of the isolated resort and the likelihood of vegetation being cut away to lower the fire hazard.
The board also addressed Minister Ida Chong’s refusal to allow the whole board to vote, and several directors said they thought it was because the provincial government did not want to get involved in changing policy.
Conversation continues about the date of the public hearing. Hicks suggested it be held in August.