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Sooke still working to get new OCP ready in time
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TOGETHER WITH
Westshore Pet Clinic
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Good morning Westshore! One thing about writing an email newsletter is that I always know when people are on holiday. “Please note…” “I will be away…” “checking email sporadically…” “If this is urgent…” “I am on holiday until...”

I am jealous. Hope you’re enjoying the summer, in whatever form you love best!
Reporter, The Westshore
A map showing the changed borders from the 2017 land swap between Sc'ianew, Langford, and Metchosin. (📸 Te'mekw Treaty Association)
Confusion in Metchosin about in-camera buffer land talks
Last October an engaged Metchosin resident, president of the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin Jay Shukin, noticed an ad in the local paper. It was a notice of disposition of property for PID 030-095-875, “Lot A,” for $274,400 to the Capital Regional District.

Presumably most readers wouldn’t know where Lot A was, or why the CRD wanted to buy it. But Shukin knew it was part of the historic 2017 land swap and border realignment between Sc'ianew First Nation, Metchosin, and Langford.

Finalized in February 2017, that border realignment was a three-way trade where Sc'ianew gave up Crown land being offered to it as part of the Te’mekw treaty negotiation in exchange for a one-third ownership of a new business park, and a portion of tax revenue from development on the Langford side of the swap.

Metchosin received the Crown land to be protected as green space, and transferred its own land to Langford to be developed. Metchosin didn’t get ownership of the business park, but does share the tax revenue, and got to ensure the green space will not be developed, something they could not have controlled if the land was owned by Sc'ianew.

So when Shukin saw that land considered for sale, he was shocked. It seemed like Metchosin was giving up the land meant to be a buffer between the business park currently under construction and rural Metchosin. How could that happen without community consultation—and wasn’t $274K too little for 45 hectares? (View Royal, by contrast, is in the midst of a deal to sell a much smaller amount of parkland to the CRD for almost three times the price.)

Shukin and others formed the Friends of the Metchosin Buffer Land, filed freedom of information requests, and started writing letters to council. They key issue for Shukin was that there had been no public consultation, and there didn’t seem to be a plan for a referendum, a vote, or a survey.

CRD wanted to buy the Metchosin land because there’s an adjacent privately-owned piece of land they were also interested in. The idea was to make a large connected park, conveniently located along the Galloping Goose trail. So they approached Metchosin, who had a series of in-camera meetings to talk about it.

In November, however, council made an in-camera decision to reject the purchase offer. Mayor John Ranns said it's because the price was too low. The CRD is bound by the official property assessment, and wasn’t able to offer more, so the deal is moot, Ranns said.

“There was a figure that we all understood, but I didn’t trust the mechanism that we would get that,” Ranns told The Westshore.

What that mechanism is, Ranns couldn’t say. He just said his hands are tied in a communications protocol agreement related to the Mary Hill Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) standstill agreement, announced earlier this year.

Also part of the Te’mekw treaty process, the Mary Hill agreement is a proposal for Sc’ianew to steward the 137 hectares if it gets ownership as part of the treaty settlement. For the last 70 years, the land has been held by the Department of National Defence, but it’s been untouched and inaccessible, and Sc’ianew expects the land to be transferred in the treaty.

As a partner to the standstill agreement, Metchosin, with Pearson College and Habitat Acquisition Trust, are committed to “diligently pursue this outcome for the duration of the agreement.” That is, fundraising, developing the concept, and a communications protocol stating that anything related to the agreement can only be made public with the steering committee’s direction.

If that confidentiality agreement is keeping discussion about Lot A behind closed doors, it sounds like the Mary Hill partners are somehow involved in Lot A discussions. Ranns says he can’t elaborate.

“They aren’t necessarily [involved], but there's a crossover that, very frustratingly for me, has to remain confidential,” Ranns said.

That's frustrating for Shukin, too, who is trying to make sense of the 1,500 pages of documents the freedom of information requests uncovered. There are a lot of questions he can’t get answers to, because discussions were in-camera, or are bound by the Mary Hill communications protocol.

He summarized his concerns as a community trust issue. There was a great deal of communication and consultation about the initial 2017 land swap, which resulted in a strong yes (76%) vote from Metchosin residents. He wants to see the same level of open discussion around potential uses for the land, whether it’s a sale to the CRD or development of a Metchosin-owned park.

Coun. Jeff Bateman talks with visitors to the Official Community Plan open house on May 7. (📸 Zoë Ducklow)
Sooke faces question of whether to finish OCP before election
Sooke’s new proposed Official Community Plan had been trucking along for nearly two years before it made much of a stir in the community, but now, loud community feedback is making Mayor Maja Tait seriously question whether this council has time to review, revise, and approve the OCP before the next election. She previously told The Westshore it might be left for the next council.

The District of Sooke is short staffed right now, which means remaining staff are facing a very busy summer of preparing reports, a major grant application, and preparing materials for OCP meetings.

Council debated at length during the 4.5 hour meeting, ultimately deciding to meet once more to address lingering concerns about development permit areas.

Coun. Al Beddows, who has been deeply involved in the OCP the whole way through, expressed frustration that some vocal members of the public are dominating the feedback and causing unnecessary delay.

“I’m tired of catering to a few people, and you say that it’s more than a few, but it’s not. It’s the same names on it, and the same agitators screaming in my face about stuff,” he said at the June 27 meeting. “If you want to throw it out, throw it out and get it done. But this beating it to death and running around and catering to different groups and—who's going to call us next week?”

Tait’s main concern was whether staff and council could find the meeting time. “It’s not my wish to postpone it but I don’t think it’s a fair ask,” she said at one point, commenting on staff workload right now. She also blamed the consultants for delivering an OCP draft full of typos, errors, and irrelevant information that has caused major delay. Sooke budgeted $200,000 over three years for the OCP.

“Will we have quorum if we go ahead to schedule this July through to September when everyone is booked to be off? Can we realistically find the meeting time? I don't know. If we were at this point six months ago, I would say yes. Had we had a document that wasn't so full of typos and errors, I would say yes.”
Around the ’Shore
🏒 Langford goalie honoured as goaltender of the year by the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Dylan Garand plays for the New York Rangers farm team in the American Hockey League (AHL). He’ll play for the Canadian world juniors next month. [Times Colonist]

💰 With increasing interest rates, your time is now to secure your One Bear Mountain residence. Get the best mortgage rate and register today.*

🚲 BMX Nationals held in Colwood attracted hundreds of people. [VicNews]

🚀 The Westshore is hiring! We’re looking for a goal-oriented, driven Account Executive to connect our growing audience with local businesses seeking effective local marketing solutions. Apply now!
*Sponsored Listing
SPONSORED POST. CONTACT US TO ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS WITH THE WESTSHORE.
Westshore Pet Clinic
TOGETHER WITH WESTSHORE PET CLINIC
The Westshore’s newest veterinary clinic is accepting new clients
Westshore Pet Clinic is a new family-owned and operated dog- and cat-only veterinary clinic in Langford’s Westhills community, located right next to the Eagle Ridge Arena off of Langford Parkway.

Dr. Martin Klein, owner and operator, has been practicing since 2012 and has special interests in dentistry and allergy-related skin conditions.  

The clinic is designed with your cat and dog in mind. The dog scale is flush with the floor to eliminate anxiety around steps, the four exam rooms are spacious and have lots of natural light, and medical equipment—from X-ray machines to dental equipment—is top of the line.

They are also currently allowing clients to accompany their pets in the clinic at this time!

Call them at 778-557-5105 to book an appointment.  

Get to know Westshore Pet Clinic a little better at
WestShoreVet.ca, and on Instagram @westshorevet.

Community Events
🌊 Sooke Philharmonic’s open air concert by the sea is coming up on July 10. The popular free event will feature trumpet, clarinet, and violin solos on top of the award winning 60-piece orchestra. Plus a drum line! Bring your own chair & picnic. 2:30pm at Ed McGregor Park.

✍🏼 Attention writers! Vancouver Island Regional Library’s Sea & Cedar is accepting submissions for the Winter 2023 issue. The deadline to submit is August 12. Learn more here.

💰 Do you have ideas about how to spend municipal tax dollars? Participate in Sooke’s citizen budget survey. Enter your assessed property value to find out where your property taxes will be spent, and propose changes. It’s available until July 17. Or participate in person; district staff will be at the Thursday night market and Saturday farmers market every week.
What’s Offshore?
Nothing today! The Rosemary, which lingered off shore for several weeks, finally departed.
SPONSORED POST. CONTACT US TO ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS WITH THE WESTSHORE.
Royal Beach Eats & Beats Beach Party
TODAY’S PARTNER: ROYAL BEACH EATS & BEATS BEACH PARTY
Come party in Colwood on July 30
Head to Esquimalt Lagoon on Saturday, July 30, from 1pm until 8pm for the Royal Beach Eats & Beats Beach Party featuring live concerts, food truck festival, a craft beer garden, a street market, and more!
Westshore in Your Words
👎 Re: Colwood councillor Doug Kobayashi to challenge Rob Martin for mayor | “We do need a change in leadership at the City of Colwood. Under the current leadership, the city doesn’t appear to be following any particular plan in stewarding development. The city instead seems to be focused on just accommodating the profit enhancement goals of developers, often at the expense of the best interests of existing Colwood citizens.

I was dumbfounded by Mayor Martin’s comment that he doesn’t believe that the community is angry. He is clearly ignoring that fact that over the last four years, a number of grassroots, community groups—such as the Royal Bay Homeowners Association and Preserve Havenwood Group—have formed as a direct result of people becoming concerned and upset with poor leadership at the City of Colwood.” —John English, President, Royal Bay Home Owners Association

🎙 I always want to hear from you, whether you have a story idea, question, or something on your mind. Or, as my first-year sociology professor used to invite: questions, comments, piercing remarks?  

✍🏽 Send us your submissions (within 100 words) and include where you live. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity. Email zoe@thewestshore.ca.

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