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Marina developers wanted to tell Bell about 'politically sensitive' plans

Proponents of a mega-yacht marina for Victoria's inner harbour wanted to tell Forests Minister Pat Bell about their project before it went through a provincial approval process because they were worried it would be politically sensitive.

“We would like to discuss it with you before we deal with the Integrated Land Management Bureau,” WAM Development Group lawyer Bruce Hallsor wrote in a June 23, 2009, e-mail to Pat Bell, the minister responsible for ILMB.

WAM is seeking a license to occupy a 2.63 hectare marine Crown lot in the harbour with a marina for 52-yachts, each at least 65-feet long. The Save Victoria Harbour Group, representing paddlers and others in the community, opposes the project.

The proposal last week passed a federal environmental assessment, nearly a year after Hallsor wrote to Bell, “We are at the point where we believe that all municipal and federal hurdles are now passed.”

Hallsor followed the e-mail with a July 13, 2009 letter to Bell that noted WAM had an agreement in principle dating back to 1985 to lease a water lot in the harbour.

“We understand that you are meeting with the Mayor of Victoria, and would appreciate the opportunity to brief you on this matter, since it will be coming before your ministry in the near future, and will have some political sensitivity,” he wrote. “Because the issue has such local sensitivity, we believe that you would benefit from a timely briefing.”

The Tyee obtained the e-mail and letter through a freedom of information request. It is unclear from the documents whether Bell granted the meeting, but a ministry spokesperson said Bell has not met with the proponents about the proposal.

In October, 2009, Hallsor told the Tyee he'd not met with any cabinet ministers about the proposal, though when asked about a letter that said he'd met with the late Stan Hagen about it he acknowledged that he'd done that.

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

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