A proposal to divide 10.2 hectares of land into two parcels in East Sooke has failed after a unanimous vote by the Juan de Fuca land use committee.
Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) applied to the Capital Regional District to divide 6040 East Sooke Rd. into a 6.2-hectare and a four-hectare parcel, promising to keep the land in the agricultural reserve.
RCM-SAR intends to sell the four-hectare parcel.
All speakers opposed the plan at a public hearing on Feb. 21, citing promises to the Sisters of St. Ann, the controversial Synergraze project, and the land should only be used for agriculture.
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.
The Sooke News Mirror reported in 2012 that RCM-SAR had “no intention of shutting the community out of that property” and pledged to act as stewards of the land.
“The critical thing I took to initiate this motion, other than speaking to the will of the people there, was that the goal of the agricultural land commission is to protect the integrity, the size of agricultural land parcels and the food security of East Sooke,” said Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Al Wickheim.
The RCM-SAR operates 46 stations along the coast and on inland lakes. There are about 1,000 members at any given time.
On the East Sooke property, which overlooks the Sooke basin, RCM-SAR operates its simulator program, electronic navigation program, and search and rescue program.
“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,” said Bill Riggs, executive director of RCM-SAR.
“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 RCM-SAR would continue to work with the Capital Regional District and the Agricultural Land Commission as part of the subdividing process. Unless it’s subdivided, the property won’t be sold.