News & Information

Dear Shirley Community Member:

The largest land use decision in the history of our area is being made with virtually no involvement with the residents of our community. The decision, being made by representatives of Sooke, Langford, and Colwood as well as JdFEA Regional Director Mike Hicks, will undoubtedly change the rural nature of Shirley and the surrounding area forever.

Attached is the most recent article from the Times Colonist newspaper outlining a decision that will affect you and the rural community in which you and your family live.

This decision will affect your water, your family’s safety and your roads.

This decision affecting the Western Forest Products land pulled from the Provincial Tree Farm License (TFL) is a rush to judgment. There have been only a few sparsely attended and minimally publicized official meetings, little discussion of the negative impact of this massive land grab and now a so called “zoning/planning” process in place after the court decision.

The Association of BC Landowners, who took the decision-making process surrounding the bylaw to court, is leading the fight to develop all the forestland – which would cause an uncontrolled urban sprawl invasion into our community.

Stand on your deck, walk to the top of Shirley Hill, go outside anywhere within the Shirley Community,

it is all forestland that was removed from Provincial control and will be developed.

It will be developed however the developers desire, with little involvement from you and your neighbours. It will be developed by out of town business concerns scheming with a land use committee that is made up of representatives of the most overdeveloped communities on the West Coast. Yes you heard it right, Sooke, Colwood and Langford representatives will decide for you how Shirley is developed.

• Have you seen the Sooke Council deny large developments?

• Would you like living in a Langford style community?

• Do you enjoy the traffic and congestion of Colwood?

• Have you watched how Sooke and a low-end hotel chain from Kelowna have worked to ravage the foreshore and build a Plantation style cookie cutter hotel?

All that and more is coming to Shirley.

The new land use process is just like us being amalgamated with Sooke – Didn’t we just vote over 82% against that proposal?

Our water supply is our most precious commodity. Rich Coleman, the former forestry minister, promised in a letter to SEAS as well in his “negotiations” with Western Forest Products that the local drinking water would be protected as a condition of the removal of the 132,000 hectares of land (almost 2/3 of the entire Juan de Fuca Electoral Area) from the TFL. So far, when the Province and Western Forest Products were pressed, they would commit to do nothing except say they would protect the drinking water. What does that mean? As you know by past performance – Nothing.

When asked if Western Forest Products management would place protective covenants of the property to protect both surface water and well water users in the area, the answer was no. When asked if the Province would help protect community’s watershed and well water users, the Province said it was up to Western Forest Products or the subsequent owners. It’s just more of the same – help the developers, the large landholders with nor regard or guarantees for the residents of our small rural community.

So, if you’re happy with the way government is handling the development of WFP lands, and your happy with uncontrolled growth, no planning and making Shirley just like Colwood, Langford and Sooke – then stay on the sidelines.

If you are, like many SEAS members,

• unhappy with the process;

•  want a say in your community and the land use decisions that affect your family;

•  want to keep Shirley rural and not allow it to become an urban sprawl suburb of Sooke,

then please join SEAS and make certain your voice is heard loud and clear.

What has SEAS done to keep Shirley rural in the 6 years since it’s creation? Lots to protect the Shirley community (read more inside).

Watch the SEAS website for details of our next meeting. Sign on to today and please send your contribution and membership today – if you are already a member, then thank you and please help us by contributing even a small amount to help our fight to educate and make certain we can keep Shirley “supernatural” by staying rural.


John Walls, President -and on behalf of the SEAS Executive


Helping Shirley Stay Rural

by SEAS President, John Walls (2016-2018)

“A proposed by-law that could see forest and waterfront land on the south island into suburban sprawl is the ‘largest land change in CRD history’ and should be treated as such….”

-from the Times Colonist, October 4, 2009. Article by Judith Lavoiie

Huge land decision falls into few hands

Since 2003 the rural lifestyle most everyone hoped would continue unfettered has been under constant attack. Local and Provencal government, working in conjunction with out of town developers has tried and tried again to turn Shirley from a rural small town to another Langford or Colwood.

First it was acres and acres of property that was once owned by Merrill Ring logging. It was sold with a “no development covenant” on the deed to Chew Excavating. Chew thought they could have the covenant removed and made several attempts. The community came together and stopped the outsized and suburban development – working to keep Shirley rural.

About the same time Guiding Owl Investments purchased 160 acres surrounding the Sheringham Point Lighthouse. The owners of the Vancouver based development company tried to walk over the local community to build whatever they wanted using the Bare Land Strata Act, which circumvents local development by-laws. Only because of restrictions by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the CRD Parks Commission (SEAPAC at the time) members of community were able to negotiate the best deal possible, limiting the development, and saving access to the lighthouse.

Next the Province tried to amalgamate Shirley and other rural communities, into Sooke – a Municipality that represents the ultimate in urban sprawl. Using the “logic” that Shirley cannot govern itself and indicating that the Province would not entertain creating a Municipality for Shirley, the Minister of Community Affairs, Ida Chong, decided in secret with the Sooke Mayor and Council that Shirley would be theirs. After an 82% NO vote, the Province backed away. Sooke, however, persisted and annexed property from other areas near Shirley in effect stealing the tax base from the rural communities.

While the examples listed show how the government and out of town developers are trying their darndest to flat out destroy the rural nature of Shirley — what do all the examples have in common?

All these attempts that would take away the rural nature of the Shirley Community were actively opposed by SEAS and its volunteer membership.

What is SEAS? SEAS is the Shirley Education and Action Society founded in 2003 when a group of local residents, fed-up with attacks on Shirley rural community came together to try and end these constant attacks.

With the strong leadership of Maureen Nelson and others in the Shirley community, SEAS volunteers worked endless hours to educate and inform members of the community about the affect of these misguided development plans and other government proposals.

Along the way, there were several victories • no development on the Chew Property; • a healthy defeat of the amalgamation with Sooke proposal; • a smarter plan for the Sheringham Point Road property; • and many other examples of SEAS volunteers fighting to keep Shirley rural. Now comes the ultimate attack on Shirley’s rural lifestyle. The Western Forest Products Provincial land give

away and subsequent development plans. Over 132,000 hectares (that’s over 326,000 acres and over 1?2 of Shirley) are now in jeopardy of becoming

the ultimate in unplanned and unfocused development and thoughtless urban sprawl. SEAS needs your help and membership now more than ever. Please consider joining the many SEAS volunteer members in fighting to keep the rural lifestyle alive in



The latest threat to Shirley – Western Forest Lands to be sold to developers

Suburban sprawl is coming to Shirley:

“A proposed bylaw that could see forest and waterfront land on the south Island turned into suburban sprawl is the “largest land change in CRD history,” and should be treated as such, environmental groups say.”

Much of the land is in Shirley:

“The 132,000 hectares at issue — part of the Juan de Fuca electoral area – stretch from the Island’s west coast to the Malahat, and make up two-thirds of the Capital Regional District. Yet a draft bylaw governing the future development of the land will be decided by a subcommittee of CRD directors, not the whole board.”

“For almost three years, after the province allowed Western Forest Products to remove thousands of hectares of its private land from tree-farm licences in 2007, opening up the possibility of development, debate has raged over what should happen. Just 160 people live in the area in question, which excludes the communities of Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew, East Sooke and Otter Point.”

A new CRD bylaw and Sooke, Langford and Colwood will decide Shirley community planning:

“The bylaw will go to a CRD land-use committee — made up of directors from Juan de Fuca and the neighbouring municipalities of Sooke, Langford, Colwood and Metchosin. In November, it will be brought to the whole board for discussion, but only committee members will be able to vote.”


“What’s being proposed is absolutely absurd,” said Ray Zimmerman, who believes the proposed bylaw will lead to patchwork development. His group organized a “Forests or Sprawl” symposium at the University of Victoria this week that attracted about 150 people.”

Excerpts from a recent Times Colonist article entitled:

“Huge land decision falls into few hands”

written by Judith Lovoie October 4, 2009