As residents of the West Shore and Juan de Fuca electoral area, we have the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful parts of the Capital Regional District.
One of the most visited and well-known parts of our region, the Juan de Fuca Marine trail, is threatened by a development proposal that could forever destroy valuable coastal ecosystems and wildlife habitats. It is our responsibility to learn about projects like this one and to take action.
More than 300,000 people visit Juan de Fuca Park every year, making it B.C.’s third most visited provincial park. Campers, bird-watchers, hikers, photographers, runners and walkers flock from across the Island, and often farther, to explore the Island’s wild west coast.
The mega-resort, proposed by Vancouver-based Ender Ilkay and the Marine Trail Holdings Group, calls for the construction of more than 280 residences within sight of a 12 to 16 kilometre stretch of the marine trail.
The proposal calls for tree line “trimming” to ensure ocean views for the new homeowners, septic fields near watersheds and 20 years of construction.
The lands impacted by the proposal used to be within Western Forest Products tree farm license, which was removed by the provincial government in 2007. These lands are now zoned as rural resource lands, a designation recognizing the importance these forests lands play in our ecosystems.
A development project of this magnitude, in such a fragile coastal ecosystem, comes at the cost of local residents, ecosystems and wildlife.
While the developer has proposed economic incentives to local residents, they appear both shortsighted and drastically inflated. Outside of the effects on local ecosystems, the trail would undoubtedly diminish in popularity, particularly during its extensive construction process.
Luckily, the proposal is far from ratification, and we, the residents of this community, still have time to share our opinion with the developer and members of the CRD.
It is imperative the residents of the West Shore and Juan de Fuca electoral area stand united to tell the CRD to respect its regional growth strategy, the rights of local First Nations, and the best interests of fragile coastal ecosystems.
Tomorrow evening, Thursday March 3, the Juan de Fuca land use committee will hear comments from the public concerning the proposed development.
Members of the public, particularly local residents are encouraged to attend the open house from 7 to 9 p.m. at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke to make their voice heard before the committee.
The decision around this project will forever alter the ecological and political landscape of our community and will set a precedent for future developments within our region.
The fate of the Juan de Fuca lands is in our hands. We now must decide how we will respond to the threat of development in one of our most pristine Island assets.
—Cam Grey graduated from Belmont secondary in 2007 and is the Vancouver Island outreach co-ordinator for the Wilderness Committee.