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Sooke Harbour: News: Sooke Annexation

Lund challenges Sooke's annexation plans

By Dan Ross
Sooke News Mirror
August 24, 2005

Annexing more properties in to Sooke is something citizens should be wary of, says the Capital Regional District's director for the Juan de Fuca region.

The reason Sooke citizens should be interested in a pending annexation of 36 properties, in Erik Lund's opinion, is that Sooke has not completed its Urban Containment Boundary, the designation for areas that can be developed under Sooke's review.

Lund said Janet Evans, Sooke's mayor, has repeatedly said she wants the municipality's boundaries the same as the containment boundary. Waiting until the current annexation proposal is decided gives Sooke the option to include East Sooke's Grouse Nest and other large parcels within their development review area.

Otter Point, Shirley and East Sooke, Lund said, just completed their boundary delineation. Waiting, Lund said, puts the developer in charge rather than council.

"(Sooke) ought to wait until the OCP's have been established," said Lund. The approvals, he said, are expected before the November provincial and municipal elections. "We created Settlement Containment Boundaries and Sooke was going after all these big lands in between."
He added his belief that Evans' comments that Sooke is not actively recruiting developers and landowners to annex in to the municipality is, "simply not true."

"If that is the case why are they trying to encourage people to come in and making promises to developers?" said Lund.

Evans, however, stood by her earlier comments Sooke council and staff never solicited any land owner to annex their property within the district boundaries.

"We had to advertise to let people know," said Evans

"After running three ads, people still called and said they did not know," added Evans. "This is a one time chance for them to (have properties moved in to the district boundaries)."

The decision
Councillors approved by a 4-3 vote Aug. 15 annexing four parcels west of the existing Sooke boundary and a 32 more properties in the East Sooke area.

One of the largest of the East Sooke parcels Sooke Council narrowly approved sending to Provincial officials for review is the Grouse Nest property, described by Evans at a June Sooke Rotary Club meeting as being a $265 million development for homes, hotels and more. She said the developers propose to bring residential water and sewer service to East Sooke if the annexation and development plans go through.
Evans, Lorna Barry, John Farmer and Marcus Farmer voted yes on the measure, while George OBriain, Tom Morino and John Stephen opposed the annexation.

Poor planning?
Lund said allowing the proposed annexations to go through establishes a poor layout for the district, with large developments scattered over a wide area from East Sooke to Kemp Lake.
"You are going to have spot developments all over the place," said Lund, "and that brings immense municipal costs. It is just not the way to do things.

"I find it bizarre," Lund added, that no one in the electoral area has applied for development.
He said he believes a more logical approach would be to ask the municipality or district a property exists in, learn what development options exist, then look for annexation to the adjoining municipality if the developer did not like what he or she saw.
"Once you join Sooke in holy matrimony it is until death do you part," said Lund. "If you stay in an unincorporated area you can still join Sooke any time you want."

His involvement in the annexation, Lund said, is because CRD land would be going to Sooke if the annexations are approved, and because land owners in his area have asked for assistance.

"If someone has a large parcel and wants to join Sooke, then they should go, that is democracy," said Lund. "Others who come crying to me, it is my job to represent them."

Although he is encouraging people to petition to send annexation to a vote, Lund said he is neutral on a vote.

"I am not necessarily in favor of joining Metchosin," said Lund. "If we are going to join somebody, it has to make sense."

"Why should people in Sooke sign a counter petition?" added Lund. "If they do not their rural land is going to be urban. People who do not want this, they have only one shot at it."

Metchosin option
Lund wrote to the Metchosin council a year ago, asking they consider annexing East Sooke within Metchosin boundaries.

"The council said in short not at this time and they would not consider it until after the amalgamation vote," said Lund.

He contacted Metchosin officials again and said he has not heard back from them, despite writing to Community Services Minister Ida Chong on July 25 stating Metchosin council, "is deliberating on whether they are interested in extending their boundary into East Sooke."
John Lambrie, Metchosin's chief administrative officer, said annexation of East Sooke, "was not under active consideration," at the time Lund sent his letter to Chong. "Certainly not to the extent of a boundary revision. That was not the case."

Lambrie said Lund has since sent another letter to Metchosin council that was discussed during an in-camera session.

Lambrie said Metchosin council reviewed Sooke's letter regarding the pending annexation proposals.

"We had no objection to the district's proposed extension," said Lambrie.

Lund emphasized people voting on a referendum should remember a new Sooke council is going to be overseeing development because elections take place in November.

Evans talked of this as well when referring to whether Sooke is going to tackle more annexations in the future.

"That is for another time, for the next council to decide," said Evans.

Registered Sooke voters have until Sept. 24 to decide whether to petition for council to send the proposed annexations to a vote of the people.

Some 725 petition letters would need to be submitted for council to either call for a referendum or drop the annexation proposals.

Copyright 2005 Sooke News Mirror

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Annexation open house set for Grouse Nest property and for Sooke

By Dan Ross
Sooke News Mirror
August 31, 2005

Learning more about pending Sooke annexation matters is going to be easier now that two open houses on the matter are planned during the next nine days.
Developers Ken Mariach and Kurt Bohn Jr. are hosting an onsite open house at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1 at their Grouse Nest Resort in East Sooke. The Grouse Nest property is the largest of the East Sooke lands where owners have applied for annexation in to Sooke's boundaries.
Grouse Nest developers are setting up shuttle buses in Sooke (leaving the community hall at 6:30- p.m. and Edward Milne community school at 6:40 p.m.) for the trip to 1424 Gillespie Road for people to talk about potential redevelopment of the area.
A second session is being arranged by the developers for Sept. 15, but they do not have a time or location set for that public open house.
District of Sooke staff is holding an open house Sept. 8 from 6-9 p.m. inside council chambers at Municipal Hall on Otter Point Road for citizens to take a look at the annexation proposals filed for all 32 East Sooke and four Kemp Lake area properties.
Both annexation proposals were approved earlier this month on a 4-3 vote of Sooke Council. The proposals go on to the Ministry of Community Service for approval unless 725 or more registered District of Sooke voters petition to block the move. Should enough petitions be received, council can call for a referendum vote or drop the annexation proposals. Deadline for the petitions is Sept. 24.


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