Strathcona Regional District board’s rejection contradicts province’s approval

Received the provincial and federal authorizations, but denied the support of local government authorities

The provincial government is stepping in after the Strathcona Regional District board turned down the Klahoose First Nation’s marina project on Cortes Island.

Rudi Mayser, the manager of authorization for the province, wrote a letter to the board of directors Sept. 4 to request a meeting with the regional district. At its meeting last week, the board subsequently voted to arrange to have Mayser attended an upcoming board meeting.

In his letter, Mayser said he had already approved Klahoose Resort Limited’s application to the province to use the Squirrel Cove site for a marina and the regional district’s decision clashed with his approval.

“The divergence of these two independent decisions has created a difficult situation and impasse for the proponents, having received the provincial and federal authorizations, but been denied the support of local government authorities,” Mayser wrote. “In light of this, I would like to propose a meeting with you to explore options to resolve this impasse. At the meeting, I would also be interested to learn about the SRD’s (Strathcona Regional District) reasons for the decision to deny the re-zoning of the area in question.”

Directors Brenda Leigh (Area D) and Gerald Whalley (Area A) both voted against the re-zoning application for the marina.

Whalley took the opinion of the boating community, which he said would be the group most directly affected by the project, to heart when voting.

The majority of boaters and the BC Yacht Clubs were against the proposal and said they would not be inclined to use the marina.

Leigh said she thought the area should be preserved after hearing from boaters who said they were concerned over the loss of good anchorage sites to commercial entities.

While several Cortes Islanders have vocally opposed the board’s decision, two Cortes Islanders recently sent a letter of support to Leigh and Whalley.

Mary and Vern Kemp thanked the two directors for voting down the project.

“Your decision is right to dismiss this application,” they wrote. “To approve this application could have meant bankrupting the present Squirrel Cove Marina development. Also I noted that the Refuge Cove marina owners, only three kilometres away, felt that they would be negatively affected also.

“This proposed commercial marina development in Squirrel Cove would be an obvious duplication of services in this maritime area, used by the boaters/tourists who mostly opposed it.”

George Creek, from the council of BC Yacht Clubs, is one such boater opposed to the marina and he urged the regional district to include the club in its meeting with Mayser.

“Our society has taken an active role in the process and are very much concerned about this attempt to undo a board decision,” Creek wrote to the regional district. “We feel that Mr. Mayser is taking an unwarranted proactive role in promoting the project by side stepping the regulatory processes that have taken place. We feel this is a highly unusual request and an apparent attempt to overturn the SRD decision.”

Boater Peter Stockdill of Parksville said the whole situation could have been avoided if the province and regional district had worked closely on the application.

“The province and the regional governments look at a proposal through different eyes, each taking care to ensure that their priorities are considered,” Stockdill wrote. “As the province and the SRD each have their own priorities, perhaps a proposal such as Squirrel Cove should require that both parties agree.

“Failure to agree means that the application fails.”

Stockdill is opposed to the marina project because he doesn’t want to see a quiet moorage spot lost to aquaculture and commercialization.