Squirrel CoveA major marina and aquaculture development proposed for Squirrel Cove, one of Desolation Sound’s most popular anchorages, received a major setback in late August when the Strathcona Regional District Board refused the rezoning bylaw required by the project. The decision was a relief for the BC coastal boating community, which has actively opposed the development, but the project may still have a future.

Proposed by the Klahoose First Nation of Cortes Island, Squirrel Cove Marine Resort would include a serviced 69-berth marina  (45-90’ slips), 46 mooring buoys, a fuel dock, and float plane and water taxi docks in the outer portion of Squirrel Cove, and relocation of an existing shellfish aquaculture site in the central part of the cove. The boating community, led by the Council of BC Yacht Clubs, has argued that the development would reduce the anchorage area by more than half and dramatically change the environment of the cove.

The project required rezoning by the SRD in order to proceed. The SRD board passed first and second readings of the bylaw and scheduled a public hearing July 24 on Cortes, where CBCYC president Sheila Boutcher and a small group of visiting boaters spoke against the project. Then, on August 22, the board split 2-2, meaning the bylaw failed.

Project opponent Peter Stockdill says the decision is “a real win for boating and the environment but there are still some clouds on the horizon.” In a letter to the SRD, Chief James Delorme has said that even if the rezoning application failed, the Klahoose would still proceed with the project. This would require a provincial water lease and, while the province has tentatively approved the lease, it’s not known how they would proceed following the district’s decision.

Squirrel Cove Development

Boutcher says “regardless of what happens in the future, the council will continue to monitor the situation and keep boaters informed.”

Some stakeholders are also looking at ways to more permanently restrict development in Squirrel Cove. At the August board meeting, director Brenda Leigh suggested a marine recreational reserve be created in the cove. Some boaters have suggested that a marine park should be established.

www.savesquirrelcove.ca

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