Both the emotional, impassioned declarations and the thoughtful, logical arguments saying “no” to the Marine Trial Holdings rezoning application presented by over 200 people at last week’s public hearing was an exceptional expression of people’s commitment to maintaining the Juan de Fuca Trail and its environs.
Looking at the issue from a broader perspective we have an opportunity to transform this region into a world-class regional park serviced by strategic local developments in existing developed areas such as Sooke, Jordan River and Port Renfrew. Rather than look at the Juan de Fuca trail as one resource to be protected look at it as the beginning of a network of trails extending into the Sooke Hills with interconnecting trails right through to Lake Cowichan, Shawnigan Lake and Goldstream Park. As wilderness areas become ever more extinct around the planet, the southwest coast of our island can stand out as a unique invaluable destination to be enjoyed by people from all over the world.
Our challenge is to channel our time, energy and material resources to find solutions to make this area an environmentally and economically self-sustaining region offering worthwhile employment to many people and prosperity for our local economy. This magnificent wilderness is also an economic resource that, if organized and managed properly, can meet the diverse needs of all the various groups and individuals who have an interest in this region in ways that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Community members from greater Victoria through to Port Renfrew expended a tremendous amount of time and energy to come together to say “no” to the Marine Trail Holdings application. However, this is just the beginning. Foreign and local speculators are buying land all along our west coast. Developers will keep coming and coming until us objectors just get worn out and people resign themselves to the mistaken view that the developers’ developments are inevitable and vital areas of our wilderness region will be gone.
To realize this opportunity and stop unwanted development will require fundamental systemic changes. I invite those who would like to work co-operatively together to find solutions to contact me and let’s explore what can be done to create a sustainable eco-region – email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 250-642-7992.