Sooke Harbour: News: Deertrail Property
Deertrail Sooke property tax bill
Norman Gidney, Times Colonist
Saturday, May 29, 2004
A cheque for $120,000 is on its way to
Sooke municipality to cover several years of property taxes on the
Deertrail property on the Sooke River.
The payment was part of the financial paperwork completed Friday as
The Land Conservancy bought out the second mortgage on the scenic,
partially-developed property now proposed for a park.
The money will be welcome in Sooke, where Deertrail is one of its
largest property taxpayers. Most councillors oppose park status for
Deertrail since that would make it tax-exempt.
But Mayor Janet Evans indicated Friday that Sooke's position is
softening. She said a consultant has been hired to estimate the costs
of cleaning up the site and of keeping it for mixed use.
She said the municipality "always said we wanted a park ... not just a
passive park with an outhouse in the corner and a place to park a
Sooke wants the Deertrail riverside campground to remain, and the
consultant -- hired by the Capital Regional District -- will look at
the potential of an ecotourism lodge for overnight stays.
"I think they can both be handled on that property," said Evans.
It means Sooke could continue to earn some tax revenue there.
TLC said in a news release that it will encourage a plan for Deertrail
that includes the campground, more on-site parking at several
locations "and a unique, environmentally sound visitors' centre."
Cleanup and liability costs at Deertrail could be considerable, as
numerous buildings and equipment are sited along its five kilometres,
between the river and the Galloping Goose Trail. There is also a huge
wooden lodge, now derelict, on the canyon edge.
TLC director Bill Turner said his group wants to get CRD participation
in financing the park deal, and will bring the issue to the regional
board in July.
Evans said Sooke and the CRD need to know how much it's all going to
On Friday, TLC paid $1,375,000 to take over the second-mortgage
position of Kimberley Global, at a considerable discount on the
original $5 million US the company had lent to Deertrail. Kimberley
paid the back taxes.
The mortgage company preferred to cut short its losses and move on,
A first mortgage on the land is still held by the province, backing a
$1.2-million tourism development grant from the 1980s that would have
been forgivable if Deertrail had been finished. TLC hopes the province
will write off or reduce its claim against the land, or accept an
ownership position in Deertrail in exchange.
There are several other small claims, including one for $20,000 by the
Workers' Compensation Board for unpaid WCB premiums for Deertrail
workers, said Turner.
TLC is continuing its fundraising and still needs hundreds of thousand
of dollars to complete the Deertrail deal. The money paid this week
for the second mortgage was interim financing from a group of 11 local
individuals who took a lower interest rate than a bank.
Victoria businessman Dave Green of Carmanah Technologies, who, with
his wife, lent $200,000, said he's passionate about the river. He has
often gone white-water kayaking there and it should be a park, he
"I think it's a wonderful idea."
Legal ownership of the Deertrail property -- the actual registered
title -- is still in the name of developer Albert Yuen, although TLC
now holds the main financial interest in the property.
TLC said it will start discussions with Yuen about ensuring the
campground opens again this summer and that drive-in access can be
made available to the public during the transition period.
© Copyright 2004 Times Colonist (Victoria)
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