The Klahoose First Nation on Cortes Island wants to build a marina and a commercial moorage facility in Squirrel Cove.
At a board meeting last Thursday, Strathcona Regional District directors gave first reading to a rezoning bylaw necessary to accommodate the operations.
The project will also involve the relocation of a 3.2-hectare shellfish tenure.
Klahoose Resort Limited Partnership wants to develop a marine resort in front of Tork Reserve in Squirrel Cove.
“The proposal would involve development of a marina comprised of 69 berths and 46 single point moorings along with a fuel dock, waste pump-out facility, power and water provision, a laundry, and float plane and water taxi docks covering an area of 16 hectares,” said Tom Yates, acting chief administrative officer of the Strathcona Regional District.
“The proposed development of the marina and associated moorings has triggered the requirement for the relocation of an existing shellfish tenure.”
The applicant has also applied for a .4 hectare tenure to be used for commercial moorage to allow access to part of the reserve that is cut off from shore access.
The project has triggered a rezoning application because the current zoning does not allow for the proposed marine development or the relocation of the shellfish tenure.
Directors passed first reading of the rezoning on the recommendation of Yates, who acknowledged the economic benefits for the Klahoose First Nation that will come with the project.
But following first reading, directors got caught up trying to decide on a date and location for a public hearing – the next step required in the rezoning process.
Directors wanted a neutral setting but the only site – Manson’s Hall – is booked through June.
The Klahoose were also planning to hold its own public information meeting at the Klahoose First Nation Multi-Purpose Centre just hours before the public hearing and some directors thought it would be preferable to have the two meetings in the same building.
“Having both the public information session and the public hearing at the Klahoose site would be advantageous for people so they would not have to move from one site to another for the same information,” said Mike Moore, alternate director for Cortes Island.
“Many people travel by bike and some may even be coming by boat as this deals with Squirrel Cove.”
Having said that, Moore acknowledged he understood there “may be issues of giving over control to the Klahoose if it’s in their traditional territory.”
Area D Director Brenda Leigh (Oyster Bay-Buttle Lake) preferred a neutral location.
“It would be more convenient for staff and directors to have it in one location, however, there’s so many differences of opinion on this issue,” Leigh said. “People who want to speak, if they’re on the applicant’s grounds, they may feel inhibited. It should be in a neutral location. I would be in favour of Manson’s, even if we have to go into the week or July.”
In the end, directors voted to hold the public hearing at Manson’s Hall on July 6, at 1 p.m. with Cortes Director Noba Anderson chairing the meeting and Leigh acting as vice-chair.
Gerald Whalley, Area A director (Nootka-Sayward), suggested that since the public hearing is more than a month away, the Klahoose hold its information session a few weeks prior “so the public has the chance to digest and mull it through instead of jamming it all through.”
Moore agreed and said he would bring it up with Director Anderson and the Klahoose.