Septic field test hole near the trail. Photo: Alysha Tylynn Jones
Public comments requested Thursday, March 3 at Edward Milne School, 6218 Sooke Road, Sooke. Hosted by the Capital Regional District.
Residents of Shirley, Jordan River, and other nearby communities are turning out in force to denounce a rezoning proposal that would permit 263 vacation homes, lodges, recreation buildings, septic fields, and roads within 100 meters of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a popular wilderness destination west of Jordan River.
The seven properties in question are former Western Forest Products tree farm license lands south of West Coast Road and adjacent to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Park between China Beach and Sombrio Beach. The current zoning allows one home on each property.
The resort plan is widely viewed as a threat to the park and the tourism dollars generated by an estimated 300,000 visitors each year. Dozens of critics have also noted that the plan contradicts the Capital Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy and promotes uncontrolled urban sprawl in designated Rural Resource Lands. Elders from the Pacheedaht First Nation have publicly stated their opposition to the project and their demands for a moratorium on development on the nation’s traditional territory.
West Vancouver real-estate developer Ender Ilkay and his supporters cite “economic development” as the main reason to allow this huge resort to go forward. However, Ilkay’s optimistic economic report fails to address negative impacts on existing tourism operators and park visitors. The report also ignores impacts on wildlife, the risk of damage to the park, increased demands on local volunteer fire and rescue services, and the increased infrastructure costs that would be borne by all tax-payers in the CRD.
Ultimately, five people will decide the future of this plan. A majority of CRD directors have serious concerns about the proposal, but the final vote rests with the CRD’s Land Use Committee A. The members are:
Mike Hicks, the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director (who also chairs the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee and has the power to appoint its members)
Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor and cheerleader for the failed Bear Mountain Resort
Janet Evans, the pro-development mayor of Sooke
Dave Saunders, mayor of Colwood, and
John Ranns, mayor of Metchosin.
Those opposed to the project include MLA John Horgan (Malahat-Juan de Fuca), MP Denise Savoie (Victoria), MLA Rob Fleming (Victoria), and MP Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), who has long advocated expanding the wilderness park.