Guest Blog By Saul Arbess
What’s wrong with this picture?
On Dec. 2nd, I attended a meeting on the proposed resort development on lands adjoining the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. The proposed resort, extending from China Beach, then sprawling 7 km west along the trail, calls for nearly 300 cabins, a lodge, and considerable infrastructure to support the development. According to the Juan de Fuca Park Purpose Statement, “the primary role…is to protect a highly scenic and unique shoreline,” and “a wide spectrum of natural values…that must be protected and managed to reflect the purpose for which it was created.” It is well known that, as it stands, the park is too narrow to support these purposes. The trail actually crosses into the disputed lands in at least two places. Now, envisage as many as 900 people living in those cabins with 2 private accesses and how this would impact the integrity of the park. At present the park has very limited access in order to protect its core values. The additional pressure created by this influx could destroy the wilderness values of the park and its use as an important wildlife corridor.
The development will encroach within at least 100 metres of the trail. We heard expert testimony that erosion and slides from the disturbance of the land and hydrology will inevitably impact the trail, even closing sections of it. The entire 7 km of cabin sprawl will be detrimental to the trail and its designated uses, while the project, as a whole, is in direct violation of the Regional Growth Strategy, which does not include recreational, tourist or residential development on those lands. It represents the worst possible spot development when development opportunities already exist in the settlement areas of Port Renfrew and Jordan River. If development occurs, it should be here in these more urban areas and at an appropriate scale.
Yet, despite the indisputable fact that this is a regional issue affecting all of us in the CRD, the decision rests with the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director and the 4 mayors representing the adjacent communities. The CRD Board as a whole will not vote on the matter. This contradicts the democratic right to representation of all citizens impacted by a decision, and must be overturned to allow for the entire CRD Board to vote on this contentious issue. Until the voting procedure is amended to allow the entire CRD to vote and until the CRD has the opportunity to further consider zoning for the entire region, a moratorium on all development on these rural resource lands should be put in place.