Community comment on controversial JDF developments

On Thursday, May 28, about 50 Shirley residents and concerned citizens filled the Shirley Hall toask questions and comment on two proposedand controversial developmentapplications planned for the area. Ender Ilkay of Marine Holdings Ltd hasapplied to the CRD to construct an RV park, resort lodge andmultiple cabin development adjacent to the world renowned Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.  It was the third of a series of four AdvisoryPlanning Commission meetings held in communities in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

The proposed developments would accommodate 1200 people atfull capacity giving them easy access to the Juan de Fuca trail. In comparison,the West Coast trail sees about 5000 visitors per year, andthe proposed developments could bring a fifth of this number to the Juan deFuca trail on a single day. 1200 people is more than the combined population ofthe surrounding communities of Shirley, Jordan River and Port Renfrew.

This idea would not have even been a twinkle in developerIlkay’s eye two and a half years agowhen the lands were part of TreeFarm Licence (TFL) 25.  Up until aJanuary 2007 decision, these landswere to remain as forest lands inperpetuity managed as Crown lands.  In a widely criticized decision, then ForestMinister Rich Coleman decided to delete 28 000ha from three TFLs, and now that landhas been opened up for sale anddevelopment by Western Forest Products (WFP).

Last June, WFP sold off the first parcels of land from previous TFL 25 to developer Ender Ilkay.  These parcels border the Juan de FucaProvincial Park, and in some casesthe trail even crosses over Ilkay’s property. Ilkay has now applied to the CRDto amend zoning bylaws (which have yet to been passed) in order to allow for  a RV park, resort lodge and multiple cabin development that would seedensity 500 times that which is allowed by the current andproposed zoning.

Last night there were few voices that spoke out in supportof the development.  Community members and concerned citizens raised multiple concernsabout the proposed developments, especially that such an application waspremature since the Rural Resource Official Community Plan (RROCP) and bylaws havenot yet been adopted by theCRD.  It is this new RROCP which would needto be amended to allow for the proposed developments, andto many people in the room this application was ‘putting the horse before thecart’.  There was also concern that thisdevelopment would run contrary to the Regional Growth Strategy as thisdevelopment is completely outside the Settlement Containment Boundaries for thearea.

Furthermore, because of the TFL history, thisdecision could set a dangerous precedent.  If approved, the CRD would be sending a strong message that other lands bought from previous TFL lands could be developed in similar fashion.

Other concerns about the development included; lack ofamenities in the development area, as the developments would be 40 to 50 kmsaway from the nearest shops andservices; limited waterresources; the poor and dangerousstate of Hwy 14; sewage treatment andrunoff; impacts on wildlife; climate change anddestruction of the wilderness character of the Juan de Fuca trail and the area known as the ‘Wild Coast’in general.

It was noted thaton the West Coast Trail where terrain is similar to the Juan de FucaMarine Trail, there have been close to 200 safety evacuations in the last twoyears.  There are no emergency servicesin the area of these proposed developments, as the parcels are outside theservice areas of both the Shirley andPort Renfrew.

Mr. Ilkay did his best to answer questions and comment on the room’s concerns, but throughoutthe night it became clear that there are some glaring oversights in theproposal.

An undertone of frustration, deep disappointment and concern could be felt throughout the room.  For these communities andother stakeholders who have lost so much in the last few years, holding on tothe character of a beloved coast will continue to be a drawn out struggle.  It was heartening to see the communitystaying strong and vocal over thislong haul.

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