Regional Director, Mike Hicks, at Kemp Lake. (Black Press Media file photo)

Regional Director, Mike Hicks, at Kemp Lake. (Black Press Media file photo)

COLUMN: Loss and improvements mark year in Juan de Fuca

Electoral area director reflects on developments for Juan de Fuca

Mike Hicks | Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director

This past year brought both success and sadness to the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. Wally Vowles, JDF alternate director for the past dozen years, passed in July leaving a huge hole in our organization, in the community and in the salmon world. Wally brought a world of knowledge and experience to his life of advising our JDF planning staff, advising me and championing and building the Charter’s River hatchery with Bill Pedneault and Elida Peers. He will be sadly missed but will always be remembered for building Charter’s Centre and perhaps the largest, newest, volunteer hatchery in Canada against all odds. Port Renfrew’s Dan Quigley has generously stepped into Wally’s role as my alternate.

The Juan de Fuca Electoral area encompasses thousands of hectares of forest lands, the communities of Malahat, Willis Point, East Sooke, Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew and six First Nations’ communities. Primarily a rural, residential area, the Juan de Fuca supports tourism, home-based businesses, one business park and a dry land sort in Jordan River.

This year saw huge infrastructure improvements in our highways network including the new Roche Cove bridge in East Sooke, improvements on the Malahat, Otter Point Road widening and paving, and Highway 14 improvements at Gallespie Road ( East Sooke), Muir Creek area, French Beach area and Port Renfrew. Millions were invested by the government of B.C. for these safety upgrades and we thank our MLA and Premier, John Horgan, for his help in making this a government priority.

COVID has taken its toll on our residents and we have quickly adapted our local JDF government in order to keep pace with new regulations and restrictions. Our office has remained open, we have not missed a meeting and our budget increase will be kept at a minimum. Our staff are the best and our standard of service has been maintained throughout the pandemic.

Next year will hopefully bring an end to COVID-19 and a return to normal in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. We are working on many exciting projects including high-speed internet throughout the JDF, establishment of a coast guard lifeboat station in Port Renfrew/Pacheedaht and opening of the Western Canadian Marine Response facility in Beecher Bay. Thank you for this opportunity and I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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Mike Hicks is the regional director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.