Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders has announced he will vote against the controversial resort development planned near the Juan de Fuca wilderness trail.
Saunders sits on the Capital Regional District land use committee A, which is deciding on rezoning developer Ender Ilkay’s 236 hectares abutting the Juan de Fuca Provincial park and trail.
Saunders said he decided to publicly state his position after JDF area director Mike Hicks came out against the proposed 257-cabin development in statements to media Friday morning.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns has long voiced his opposition to the resort plan, making Saunders the third of five committee directors to oppose the project.
The rezoning went through a three-day marathon public hearing in Sooke this week, with the vast majority of people – most who came from urban areas of the Greater Victoria – speaking against the resort and in favour of preserving the forest as-is.
Saunders admits he supports aspects of the resort development, but said passionate input from so many regular citizens raised doubt about the proposal.
“The public hearings raised a lot of questions for me. This development will bring a lot of people to that area, just as the trail brings people to the area,” Saunders said. “But there is a significant lack of emergency services and a lack of road infrastructure in the area for the trail or new development.
“The people said clearly that with this kind of development, why not put it near Port Renfrew or Sooke, where populations are.”
The Marine Trails Cabin plan offered to preserve 84 per cent of the property as untouched forest. If the rezoning is denied, Ilkay has the option of selling the seven adjacent parcels or using it for resource extraction, such as logging.
Saunders said he hopes various environmental groups lobbying against the cabin project offer to help the developer find viable alternatives. “It’s easy to say ‘no’ but what happens after we say ‘no’?” Saunders said. “No one has an answer.”
CRD land use committee A is made up from the mayors of Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, Sooke and the JDF EA director. The committee will vote on rezoning Ilkay’s land in October.
For more on the Marine Trails Cabin resort, see www.marinetrailresort.com.