Public boat launch construction halted

Work has ground to a halt on the public boat launch on the property adjacent to the Prestige Hotel.

CAO Evan Parliament

Work has ground to a halt on the public boat launch on the property adjacent to the Prestige Hotel.

It appears all of the necessary referrals were not received before work began on the construction of the $1.6 million boat launch, dock and float.

An application process, which began in November, 2010, for a foreshore lease has not yet been granted from the provincial Integrated Land management Bureau (ILMB) under the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations.

The senior land officer for the coast operations division of the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, Doug Berry, stated in an email to Councillor Herb Haldane, that the province cannot authorize any work on Crown land/foreshore unless a land tenure has been issued/signed by the province.

In response District of Sooke CAO Evan Parliament said it was “quite a complex and convoluted process” and there were two processes at work — the federal Department of Fisheries and Ocean and the province.

The province has a referral process and one of the key referrals has to come from the First Nations in regard to Crown land or water.

“The District of Sooke consulted with the T’Sou-ke and got a letter of support and we were told we need the approval of Beecher Bay because of the Douglas Treaty. That process can take a long time,” said Parliament. He said they weren’t aware that they needed to consult with the Beecher Bay First Nation.

“Had we known this the rock work would have waited,” he stated.

“When we first heard this we went to Beecher Bay and Chief Russell Chips said that if T’Sou-ke supports it — we support it.”

Parliament said the issue is complicated by the fact that the bands are currently in treaty negotiations.

The rock fill into the harbour took place because the DFO gave the district a fish window which has a deadline of February 15, 2011.

“The contractor was simply trying to meet the DFO “fish window” deadline,” said Parliament.

In order to cooperate with the ILMB, Parliament authorized the boat launch contractor to cease operation until the tenure is granted.

Meanwhile neighbouring Jock’s Dock, has or will apply for a revised tenure license because they encroach on the district’s foreshore lease area. Both the district and Jock’s have agreed on any access and encroachment issues, said Parliament.

The federal grant, which the district obtained to build the boat launch, had a March 31, 2011 deadline for completion of the work and this has been extended to October 2011.

The problem Haldane said he had with this is that, “developers are expected to play by the rules and the district is doing stuff without permission.”

The $1.6 million public boat launch being built next to the Prestige Hotel site is funded by a $605,768 federal government grant, $200,000 along with a $500,000 “in-kind” contribution from Prestige and $300,000 from the District of Sooke.

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