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Part of CRD's land purchase likely to be re-sold: board chair

The Capital Regional District will likely sell some of the land it has agreed to buy from Western Forest Products, said board chair Geoff Young.

The CRD and The Land Conservancy have agreed in principle to pay $18.8 million for 2,350 hectares of WFP's lands on southern Vancouver Island that until three years ago were managed under the tree farm license system. The purchase includes 3.5 kilometres of coastline between Jordan River and Sandcut Beach, as well as lands near Sooke Potholes Regional Park and the water supply area.

“We've also acquired other land we don't think we will need,” Young said. “I want the public to be aware that we have discussed the sale of some of what we bought.”

The CRD board made the decision in a closed meeting on March 3 to purchase the land. Board members were supportive with the understanding some of the cost would be recouped by selling some pieces of land, said Young. “We're very aware we have limited resources.”

The board is yet to discuss the details, but properties for sale might include some of the areas not appropriate for park protection, such as the Jordan River town site, and areas near the water supply area that are not actually part of the catchment, he said.

The purchase is a stretch for the CRD, he said, adding that it uses all the money available for parks acquisition for several years. TLC will contribute just over $5 million.

The CRD is still hopeful the provincial government will also come up with some money, said Young.

“It's not a simple thing and it doesn't happen overnight,” said community and rural development minister Bill Bennett in an interview today. There are hundred, if not thousands, of demands on the province's limited resources, he said, adding he hopes there will be an announcement soon “but we're not there yet.”

The properties the CRD has agreed to buy were among the 28,000 hectares of WFP's lands the province allowed to be removed from management under the tree farm license system in 2007.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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