Sooke gets cash instead of Sunriver playing fields

Deal struck between District of Sooke, SD#62 and Sunriver

Council gave first and second reading to Bylaws 534 and 535 and a public hearing will be scheduled. This is in regard to Sun River Development – Exchange of Lands for School Site. This will finalize the negotiations between the District of Sooke, Sun River Estates Ltd. and School District #62.

In 2004, the three parties entered into a School Site Agreement for the provision of lands  for a school site. In 2010, the District of Sooke initiated an application to the ALC to facilitate the relocation of the proposed school site.

Sun River wants to develop the old school site for residential uses and in exchange for its development it will make a cash contribution to the District of Sooke of $400,000 and will also transfer the district lands back to the district. School lands will be transferred back to School District 62. The school site will also have a playing field when a school is built.

The $400,000 to be paid to the district will be earmarked for sporting activity.

“It’s a good deal, it gives us raw land and money… it’s good for everybody,” said Mayor Wendal Milne.

The only opposing vote came from Councillor Herb Haldane who said the public had no say in this matter and while the process looked “transparent and above board” it was done in-camera. He said the public hearing which will follow will deal only with land use matters and not the monetary aspect of the deal.

(In-camera meetings are held for personnel, economic and legal issues).

“Why take a piece of real estate with five metres of fill which is of no value to us,” said Haldane. He thinks $400,000 is not enough and there should have been two playing fields in Sunriver. He also stated that some people who purchased property in Sunriver did so because they thought there would be playing fields built.

Milne said in recent discussion leading up to the deal there was always an issue of the cost of developing the playing fields. He said there was full consultation with community groups and at the end of the day they were not interested in having the playing field located there.

Councillor Rick Kasper said it was clearly indicated that previous arrangements were not in the interest of either party.