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NDP promises to buy Vancouver Island land, return public control

New Democratic Party leader Carole James promised today an NDP government would buy 12,000 hectares of land on Vancouver Island that the B.C. Liberals removed in 2007 from management under the province's tree farm license system.

“This is great,” said Maurita Prato, who has been working on the issue for the Dogwood Initiative environmental group in Victoria. “We're really happy there's been this announcement made.”

In 2007 then forest minister Rich Coleman released the land, owned by Western Forest Products, from the TFL system. WFP then announced plans to sell some 2,550 hectares to Vancouver developer Ender Ilkay. Ilkay floated plans that included a village of 10,000 people in Jordan River.

Ilkay has since bought 240 hectares next to the Juan de Fuca trail and is proposing to build a lodge and recreational vehicle site. He allowed his option to buy the rest of WFP's land to lapse.

The land stretches along the west coast of Vancouver Island from near Sooke to Port Renfrew.

Prato said the current Liberal forest minister, Pat Bell, has also been talking with the Dogwood Initiative and the Jordan River Steering Committee. “Whatever happens politically there's a real opportunity for there to be more community process on those lands and hopefully acquisition of land,” said Prato. “Time will tell.”

The NDP's announcement did not include an estimate of what the purchase price, which would have to be negotiated with WFP, might be. Prato said the figure people were talking about at the announcement in Colwood was in the range of $100 million.

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

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