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LETTER: Future of Turkey Head too important to be decided behind closed doors

Last week, the Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB) wrote to council to express our significant concerns about the extremely limited opportunities for public visioning and engagement in the process to establish the next 30-year lease for the Oak Bay marina and redevelop the Spewhung/Turkey Head site, foreshore and waters.

We have asked council to provide sufficient time and opportunity for additional, meaningful community engagement to assist the full realization of the huge public potential for this magnificent site.

The current process feels both opaque and hurried for one of the most significant public assets in our municipality, and will lock down the future of the land, and adjacent waters and foreshore for the next generation and a half.

Although the district has legal obligations, these should not preclude the kind of robust, transparent public engagement and communication that would ensure that the final outcome accurately reflects the aspirations and values of our community.

It would also allow for community collective wisdom to be applied to vital issues like protecting and promoting the shoreline and marine ecology of the site, positioning Indigenous culture and use as important drivers of the redevelopment, and supporting strong, new public access and active recreational use of the area.

This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our community. Spewhung/Turkey Head is an extraordinary natural environment for a modern urban setting, in one of the earth’s specially endowed regions, within the traditional territory of the Lekwungen people. It also lies within the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and serves as a popular destination for Oak Bay residents and visitors, by land and water.

CAOB’s role encompasses promoting opportunities for Oak Bay residents to engage positively in community, learn about public issues, and participate in public conversations on how to make Oak Bay a healthy, green community that is socially and culturally vibrant.

We look forward to meeting with Mayor Kevin Murdoch and interested councillors to discuss how to support additional, substantive public involvement to determine the future of Spewhung/Turkey Head and the adjacent marine areas.

Community members interested in contacting CAOB can reach us through oakbayconnector@gmail.com and https://oakbaycommunityassociation.org/.

Kris Nichols, president

Community Association of Oak Bay