Central Saanich council unanimously approved issuing a development permit for a 500-boat marina in Saanichton Bay Monday despite warnings from native Indians that development is contrary to the James Douglas Treaty.
Council’s action paves the way for a request for a building permit by Saanichton Marina Ltd.
The area has been zoned for marina use for 16 years.
“The Indian people of Saanich demand that you respect the terms of the treaty,” said Tsawout band manager Earl Claxton.
“In return for making lands available for non-Indian settlement, including the lands where this council is debating this development permit, we were guaranteed our rights to carry on our hunting and our fisheries. The terms of the treaty were intended to forever protect our people in these pursuits.”
Claxton said the 1858 treaty protects Indian people by allowing them to hunt and fish as they had traditionally done “as if we were sole occupants to the land”
Said Claxton: “This means that the Saanichton Bay area is one of the areas that are protected and must be preserved in accordance with the treaty.”
“The marina proposal must be rejected because any development in Saanichton Bay would be contrary to the treaty.”
Claxton, noting that the provincial government 10 years ago rejected a proposal for marina development in the bay, said reasons for rejection then “are equally valid today.”
“While it is true the proposal has been scaled down, the environmental and other effects of the development continue to be damaging to the interests of the 264 band members in their traditional food gathering and other uses of the fishery.”
Prior to council’s decision, two area residents had requested a four-week adjournment to give residents an opportunity to express their views on the controversial proposal.
M.A. MacPherson 2607 Lancelot Place, said he only learned about the planned marina development a few days ago.
“A lot of people in the community would like to know more about this plan.” he said, adding: “It doesn’t appear the community has been considered at all.”
Harry Harrison, 7960 Arthur Dr., supported his neighbor’s call for an adjournment and fired a broadside at Ald. Eric Lewis claiming he should disqualify himself from voting.
“Lewis stands to earn a lot of money if this development goes ahead. He should disqualify himself for voting on the motion.”
Lewis snapped: That’s nonsense.”
Outside the meeting, Lewis, owner of the nearby Waddling Dog Inn, said Harrison was “drawing a red herring across the trail. He thinks because I own the Waddling Dog that I am going to make money from the marina. That’s nonsense.”
Mayor Ron Cullis said the issue had been debated for some considerable time and “council has gone as far as it can in defending the public interest.”
He said the issue of the treaty “Is something that is out of the purview of this council.”