Environmentalists score small victory

It must be nice to own a logging company.

It must be nice to own a logging company. The provincial government up and gives you a truly staggering amount of land, which you sell for a truly staggering amount of cash to developers who get to absorb the truly staggering amount of backlash once the residents realize they’ve been wholly screwed.

All the payoff, none of the work — externalization at its best.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), we can’t all be logging executives. And so, we find ourselves locked into a serious predicament. The Capital Regional District, developer Ender Ilkay, dozens of non-profit groups and hundreds of regular folks are, for different reasons, all equally apprehensive about the prospect of some 260 tourist cabins being built on Ilkay’s 236 hectares of land along the Juan De Fuca trail.

This is the third iteration of the proposal, and the problems are still many. To start, the lands are zoned Rural Resource, and the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) says that any proposal other than resource extraction is a no-go. This contradicts the official community plan for the area, which says the land can be used for tourism. Add into that a general apprehension about urban sprawl and the loss of wild space, and you’ve arrived at last Wednesday, when 150 people gathered outside the CRD board meeting to reinforce the hundreds who have been calling, emailing and protesting in recent months.

The meeting was centred around two points, the most obvious being the integrity of the Juan De Fuca trail. Less apparent was the question of whether or not Land Use Committee A, made up of a portion of the CRD board, is the place to decide the fate of regionally significant land, or whether the responsibility should rest with the board as a whole. The final word? Lands currently zoned Rural Resource (including those covered by Ilkay’s proposal) should be in the hands of the CRD board, and by extension the wider community.

It’s unclear whether Wednesday’s decision to request that the province allow the proposed change could be the end of this development proposal or the beginning of a very long legal battle, but it was certainly a victory for everyone working to preserve wilderness here in the capital. M

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