In 2012 the Society focused on the development of the Otter Point Official Community Plan (OCP), clearing of Wieland Road Trail and the ongoing clearing of broom on the Whiffen Spit. The Society continues to advocate for multi-use trails and green space for hiking, equestrian and biking in the Capital Regional District (CRD) focussing on Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDF EA).
The challenge of expanding community trails, parks and publicly accessible green space still remains as most of the lands in Sooke and JDF EA are in private hands or are subject to First Nations treaty negotiations. In the JDF EA it is clear that the ability to achieve community trails rests primarily on park dedication on subdivision. Park dedication rules are set by the province and occurs when three or more lots are created with at least one of the lots equal to or less than 2 Ha. Otter Point has a unique problem as it is the only Official Community Plan (OCP) area in the Capital Region District without a major park. The Society continues to develop a concept of linked trails and green space in Otter Point so as to know what to ask for when the opportunity arises.
When the next draft of the Official Community Plan for Otter Point is released for review, please get involved; read, ask questions, and comment. It is at this level that your input makes a difference. East Sooke and Shirley will soon be asking for community members to review and redraft their OCP’s. This will be an opportunity to get involved with similar issues in those communities. The District of Sooke is revising its zoning regulations. These are all opportunities to secure trails and green space.
The Society will continue to keep you informed of major developments and opportunities concerning these most important land use documents.
In addition to the ongoing efforts of many as described above, the following were also accomplished during 2012:
For 2013 we are hoping to start a community recreation program for the JDF EA Parks and Recreation Commission, provided by our Society as a public service. The idea is to develop and advertise up to 12 hikes in the area and draw more people into an appreciation of our surroundings. To do this program, we shall be asking for members to volunteer to be a hike leader for one or more specific hikes. The hike leader would be trained in the hike and in basic first aid. We hope that the Society will be able to increase its profile in the Community while also fortifying the advocacy role by getting more citizens interested in trails and wilderness.
- Wrote to Sooke Mayor and Council in support of a bike skills park in Phillips Memorial Park.
- Responded to a number of queries concerning trails and access in the region.
- Wrote to the JDF EA Parks and Recreation Commission to urge the acquisition of the Admiral John Charles Lands for a Community Forest.
- Conducted a tour of the Parks Commission to view the Admiral's lands.
- Conducted a broom bash on the Whiffin Spit.
- Conducted three work parties on the Wieland Trail pursuant to our Stewardship agreement with the JDF EA Parks and Recreation Commission.
- Conducted a briefing and slide show for the Mayor and Council of the District of Sooke.
- Continued to explore trails and hiking areas and document the desirable trails in the region.
- Conducted 13 guided hikes.
- Cleared a trail between Townsend Rd and Otter Point Rd at John Phillips Memorial Park to create a trail system linking churches in Sooke's Churchs
- Requested provision of a walking trail between Church and Anna Maria Roads to be incorporated with the Presbyterian Church development.
- Revamped our web site. The new version is under revision.
Nominations are open for the executive for 2013 to be elected at our Annual General Meeting. In particular, we are looking for a member who will stand as treasurer. We thank Judi Conwright who has done this so well for the Society for four years. She wishes to give another member a chance to step up to this position. Please get in touch if you are interested in this or any other position in the executive.
Our membership drive for 2013 is doing quite well. We are hoping for a 5% increase over our 2012 membership of 110. 2012 memberships expire in March. Thank you for renewing for 2013.
Please come out and join us in our hikes and events. Bring a friend to our hikes and recruit them to the Society. There is strength in numbers, and we also get to have some fun.
Check out our web site at www.jdftrails.ca. It has been revamped thanks to Paul and James, our new webmasters.
In the meantime, have a happy and prosperous New Year.
Sid Jorna, President