In 2001, the Capital Regional District (CRD) adopted a management plan for The Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park. This marked the end of a planning process that began when land was transferred to CRD Parks in 1997, forever protecting over 4000 hectares of magnificent hills and forest lands, finally allowed to once again rewild and flourish.
This Park provides a natural buffer for the adjacent water supply lands and protects a vast area of maturing Douglas-fir forest, spectacular hilltop meadows, wetlands and lush stream valleys. The Park is an important contribution to sustaining biodiversity, sequestering carbon and providing critical habitat for many species. This parkland is part of the Sea to Sea Green Blue Belt, a corridor linking Saanich Inlet in the east to Juan de Fuca Strait in the west.
The provincial government is considering an "alternative emergency" route to the existing highway along the Malahat. The proposed highway runs straight through the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park.
Building this highway would require approval from CRD directors and involve amending the original provincial legislation that protects this area. There has been no public consultation regarding this dubious project nor any dialogue with First Nations publicly reported to date.
While concerns about delays Malahat travelers should be addressed, this should not be used as a pretext for building a highway that would fuel sprawl in our green belt, and divert funds away from badly needed public transit improvements.
In the midst of global climate emergency and critical loss of biodiversity, building or expanding roadways and opening the Sooke Hills up to developers is totally misguided. It is no longer business as usual. We must invest in transportation solutions that address the needs and safety concerns of local residents while preserving in perpetuity the last remaining tract of wilderness on south Vancouver Island.
We, the undersigned, call upon the CRD, the Premier and the provincial government to:
Immediately cancel any plans to build or expand any roadway through the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park.
Improve safety on the Malahat by improving public transit and testing an Interval-Based Speed Enforcement System. *
Implement procedures to minimize delays after crashes on the Malahat, including improved ferry travel options.