The old Royal Navy ammunition buildings half built into the water are slowly falling apart and are among the five remaining buildings on Cole Island. The province is leading a process to come up with a plan to help preserve a national historic site in Esquimalt Harbour.

Conservation ramps up for historic Cole Island

Piles of bricks and lumber linger inside and out of most of the buildings on Cole Island, but that could soon change.

Piles of bricks and lumber linger inside and out of most of the buildings on Cole Island, but that could soon change.

Cole Island is a step closer to a conservation plan after the City of Colwood approved a memorandum of understanding with B.C.’s Heritage Branch laying out the process for public consultation.

The purpose of the agreement is for Colwood to work with the province to find out what nearby residents would like to see done with the island with funding potentially available from the province. The goal is to finish the consultation process by the end of the year, or near to it. A workshop is in the works.

“It’s just a matter of process, to allow things to carry on and to work forward,” said Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton.

Late last month Colwood, with transportation from the View Royal Fire Rescue, hosted a tour of Cole Island for stakeholders and community members to see the historic site and discuss proposed conservation work.

“There really isn’t any public agreement of what the meaning of this place is, what it’s for, so we really are kind of starting from zero,” said Ken Johnson, Hallmark Heritage Society president. “I think that’s a big part of what the challenge is.”

Cole Island began its life as the Royal Navy’s ammunition storage depot in the mid-1800s, picked for distance from the main dockyard, an important safety feature if the ammunition should ignite.

Before that the island was an important seasonal camping and fishing site of local First Nations communities. The island remained a magazine complex until the end of the Second World War, when it was decommissioned.

There are five remaining buildings in various states of disrepair, down from its peak of 17. Recent work stabilized the buildings and made them, for the most part, safe from water.

Cole Island is owned by the province but is located in Colwood, in the northern reaches of Equimalt Harbour. Heritage B.C. is carrying out the process of determining what needs to be done.

“It’s really about community involvement, community engagement,” said Rick Goodacre, Heritage B.C. executive director. “What lies behind it is simply talking to people and finding out what this place means to them, what they think its value is and what would be the best way to … preserve it.”

In the meantime, improvements to the island continue with the help of money from provincial and federal funding and the efforts of the Friends of Cole Island. Funding earlier in the year paid for interpretive work, the sealing of the buildings with metal plate doors and basic vegetation management.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Just Posted

UPDATED: Hundreds gather to reflect and remember UVic students killed in bus crash

Campus community invited to reflect, support one another

Residents say Monday’s fatal crash in Saanich wasn’t unexpected

Speed has long been a concern for neighbours in the Cumberland and Union roads area

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Reynolds Secondary principal pens letter to parents after student involved in fatal crash

Various supports available to students, staff and community

Oak Bay United preparing entirely new development application

Three scenarios being considered for Granite Street redesign

WATCH: United Way #Drive4Five event launches campaign to raise $5 million

More than 80,000 lives changed last year by the United Way

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Most Read