Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Province chips in to help buy land it released from public management

The British Columbia government is contributing $2 million to the Capital Regional District's purchase of some of the land on Vancouver Island that the province released from public management three years ago.

In the province's news release community and rural development minister Bill Bennett stressed that the land is private land that “clearly south Islanders have a desire to see . . . become part of the public trust.”

The release fails, however, to mention that up until 2007 the land, which belongs to Western Forest Products, was managed under the province's Tree Farm License system as part of a long-standing agreement that allowed WFP access to trees on publicly owned Crown land.

“I'm pleased the province has come to the table, but it's a thousand days too late,” said Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan. The province is providing money that will go to WFP when it could have negotiated similar benefits three years ago when it was negotiating removing the land from the TFL, he said.

The CRD announced a month ago that it had reached an $18.8-million deal with WFP to buy 2,350 hectares of land, including 3.5 kilometres of shoreline from Jordan River to Sandcut Beach, as well as lands adjacent to Sooke Potholes Regional Park and close to the regional water supply.

The areas had been the subject of much public outcry since the release of 28,000 hectares from the TFLs in January, 2007. A July, 2008, report by auditor general John Doyle found the release had been granted without due consideration of the public interest.

Today's release quoted Victoria area cabinet ministers Murray Coell and Ida Chong supporting the deal, as well as CRD chair Geoff Young expressing gratitude for the province's contribution.

Update, April 9: "The provincial government has never taken responsibility for their outrageous decision in 2007 to remove these designated forest lands from the TFLs for the sole benefit of a private forest corporation," conservationist and Jordan River Steering Committee member Vicky Husband said in an e-mail message. "The government totally ignored the public interest and local governments and there was no consultation or attempt at compensation.

"Now the government is offering the public $2 million while they gave WFP a $200-million-dollar gift at the taxpayers' expense. Some deal! This is one of the most egregious acts of total disdain for the protection of the public interest in the history of B.C.." Husband noted that her opinion is totally supported by the auditor general's report.

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

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus