Wally Vowels’ protected wildlife corridor will also preserve some old growth trees in the midst of a housing development. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke developer’s plan to protect wildlife an expensive proposition

Plan to help wildlife forces builder to pay an extra $27,000

A developer building a housing development in East Sooke has taken the unusual step of dedicating more than 20 per cent of the land for use as a wildlife corridor.

“This is a sensitive area, and when I bought the property and started walking it to get a sense of what it was all about, it became immediately obvious that there was a wildlife corridor that ran through the middle of the property,” Wally Vowels said.

“I hired a biologist and he came back with a report that was pretty much what I thought.”

Intent on preserving the corridor, which provides wildlife a route between two park lands on either side of his property, Vowels decided to dedicate land to that purpose but when he took his plan to the Capital Regional District, the parks department wanted to see the land used as a hiking trail connector.

“That wasn’t what I wanted at all. You don’t preserve a wildlife trail by introducing a bunch of human activity,” Vowels said.

Although Vowels was eventually able to enshrine the land as a wildlife corridor, the move didn’t come without a price.

“Because there is no human activity, it doesn’t qualify as parkland so after an advisory planning commission meeting in East Sooke it was decided that I would still have to pay the mandatory five per cent cash dedication in lieu of parkland,” Vowels said.

“So saving this corridor for the wildlife ended up costing me an additional $27,000.”

Vowels has a long history of working to preserve Sooke’s natural world. He’s been an active advocate for salmon restoration and is on the vanguard of the construction efforts at the new Charters River hatchery.

ALSO READ: Land clearing begins for new salmon hatchery

It’s not the first time that Vowels has put nature before pure profit and at the forefront of his work as a developer.

About 10 years ago he bought land along Otter Point Road that contained two salmon streams.

He hired a lawyer and worked to establish covenants on the land that would forever protect those streams from future development and even established a trust fund to help ensure that those covenants were respected in perpetuity.

“Preserving and restoring salmon streams has always been my hobby, so this was a perfect fit. The funny thing was that my lawyer said that it was a new one on him. He’d been hired in the past by developers trying to remove covenants; never to impose them.”

But Vowels isn’t your average developer, said Dana Livingston, who is working with a fledgling group of environmental activists to promote precisely the sort of initiatives that Vowels has undertaken on his own.

“He’s amazing, really. What Wally has done is a gift to the region’s wildlife and to the people of East Sooke,” Livingston said.

“We’re working on trying to educate people and discourage developments that create these fragmented landscapes with fences all over. You do that and end up with deer and bears in your backyard and it doesn’t need to happen that way.”

Livingston said that the regulations need to change so that doing the right thing, enviornmentally, doesn’t penalize developers with extra charges.

“For me, a devvelopment isn’t about what the area is going to look like today,” said Vowels when asked why he is so passionate about preserving nature.

” You have to look 50, 100, even 200 years from now and ask yourself how what you’ve done is going to impact the area. I like to think that corridors like this will mean that our wildlife will still have a chance of surviving and won’t just disappear.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Bill Pedneault, left, Mike Hicks and Wally Vowels announce plans for a new hatchery in Sooke. “I think it’s the greatest thing, as far as fisheries, that’s ever happened in this area,” Hicks said. (Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror)

Just Posted

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Woman sentenced to time served, 3 years probation for Oak Bay arson

This comes after defendent spent 150 days in jail

Oak Bay double murder trial enters second week

Defence continues to question police handling of crime scene

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

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

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

Most Read