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Hatchery granted lease agreement

Gulf Islands Driftwood, Tuesday, June 10, 2003

By Gail Sjuberg

Approval for a 20-year lease of land between Sablefin Hatcheries Ltd. and Walker Hook property owner Henry Caldwell has been granted by the Ministry of Transportation (MOT). Rob Howat, MOT subdivision approving officer for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, said he issued preliminary layout approval for the subdivision on May 28. As Howat explained at a March 28 public meeting on Salt Spring, he is not obligated to disclose reasons for his decision.

Howat has the authority to not approve subdivision applications if he deems they are contrary to the public interest. Islanders opposed to the project who spoke at the meeting cited road safety issues, its location in a residential neighbourhood and that it contradicted official community plan provisions governing environmentally sensitive sites.

Because the land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, subdivision approval is required for leases longer than three years' duration. The hatchery development will also surface at the June 11 meeting of the Capital Regional District (CRD) board, when members vote on an environment committee recommendation related to the company's waste management permit application. It suggests the board recommend to the permit-issuing Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection that, prior to issuance of its approval, Sablefin retain a qualified professional to conduct an environmental impact assessment which should be released for review and comment. Periodic monitoring of the discharge water quality and the Walker Hook area receiving waters is also recommended. The CRD was asked by MWLAP to comment on the waste management permit application.

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