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Sooke Harbour: News: Sooke Potholes

Stakeholders open door to Potholes park

Jennifer McLarty
Victoria Weekend Edition
Friday July 16, 2004

Sooke Pot Holes

The Land Conservancy is a step closer to turning one of southern Vancouver Island's most beautiful pieces of real-estate into a public park.

Capital Regional District directors voted unanimously Wednesday to support in principle acquiring the Deertrail lands in Sooke, with the potential to preserve the 63-hectare parcel as green space.

"This means to the community, at the regional level, politicians recognize that what the people want to see is the preservation of this valuable property as parkland," said TLC executive director Bill Turner.

"I think the directors should be applauded for doing their research, and really thinking the matter through."

The CRD motion also requests the B.C. government appoint a mediator to craft a potential agreement with the TLC, along with other affected parties, and ease any tensions that linger between the conservation group and Sooke council.

The municipality had been leaning toward allowing resort development on the Deertrail lands, which includes a section of the Sooke potholes, but a report reviewed by directors Tuesday concluded the idea wasn't financially feasible.

The TLC will now go back to the provincial government looking for a $1.26 million commitment to proceed with turning the land into a park.

Turner met with Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Bill Barisoff Tuesday morning, but Barisoff declined to act until the CRD had deliberated on the issue.

The minister and Turner will meet again next Wednesday.

The final component of the regional district's motion provides protection for the TLC, which holds the property's $1.4 million second mortgage, if the first mortgage holders foreclose.

They threatened to foreclose in the past if zero development was permitted.

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