For over a year now, the Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB) has written to and met with the mayor and councillors to express serious concerns with the process that council took in 2020 to renew the 30-year lease for the Oak Bay marina and redevelop the Spewhung/Turkey Head site, foreshore and waters.
We are very pleased with council’s July 18 announcement to restart that process, as it indicates that a majority of members are now listening to community calls for meaningful engagement with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and the Oak Bay community about the future of this precious site.
Since 2017, CAOB has publicly expressed the need for a robust process to identify community aspirations for the marina/Spewhung site to realize its unique potential. CAOB-sponsored community visioning conversations in 2017 led to a promise from then-councillor Kevin Murdoch that the “unique benefits and challenges of the property will require a few years for consultation.” It’s nice to see that this promise is now to be implemented, albeit 4.5 years after the fact, and those “few years for consultation” are about to begin.
We have emphasized this site is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Oak Bay; we have no other waterfront public sites with such potential. We have consistently repeated what we hear from the community – a change to the district’s approach is needed to ensure these public lands are developed in a way that will best serve the future for this community and respect First Nations ownership, as well as present and future needs.
We would like to thank the community for their continued interest in this site and their strong desire to have the district conduct a proper process. It was never about “procurement” as the district claimed, but rather a significant land use decision. This re-start is exactly what many have been asking for and we are glad that the majority of council has listened.
Kris Nichols, president
Community Association of Oak Bay