DL 1375: The Heart of the Island
SAVE THE LAST SAVARY WILDERNESS
When SILT began, Savary had no protected land. Today Savary has 200 acres of protected land (165 of these are within DL 1375.) This was only achieved through SILT’s efforts, the enormous efforts of the Nature Trust of BC, the generosity of Savary donors, and the timely contributions from federal and provincial governments. Today DL 1375 is under threat of subdivision. District Lot 1375 consists of 133 hectares (330 acres) in the middle of the island; the parcel contains Western Canada’s only intact example of a forested dune ecosystem and is home to numerous rare and endangered species of plants and animals. SILT has always held the position that DL 1375 would be best preserved as an Ecological Reserve now and forever.
According to BC Parks, South Coast Planning Section Head, Vicki Haberl, DL 1375, the Heart of the Island is on the BC Parks acquisition list. Let`s continue to work towards the goal to preserve this land as a protected area. Despite the pending court decision, the developer owners (the Sahlin family) have applied to subdivide this irreplaceable treasure. The subdivision application is on the agenda for the Powell River Regional District, Planning Committee on February 22 at 4PM and could go to the Regional Board meeting on February 24. The subdivision application process is required to take environmental and public interest issues into account.
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SILT was established in 1997, when the last undivided and undeveloped land (DL1375) on Savary was under threat of subdivision. The owner/developers of DL 1375 Mr. David Syre of Trillium Corporation and Mr. Roger Sahlin of RRR Construction in Bellingham had asked the PRRD to write a bylaw to divide the land into 90 lots and establish a gated community and airport. After two unsuccessful attempts to obtain unconditional subdivision approval, in 1995 and 2002, one of the joint owners sold his 50% interest in DL 1375 to the Nature Trust of BC. The other joint owner, the Sahlin family, subsequently applied to subdivide by a different route. An application was made to the court for "partition" of the land. Partition is deemed to be a subdivision although it must also have the consent of the approving officer before the new lots can be sold or developed. In March 2010 the court gave judgment in the Sahlins' favour subdividing the land into either 4 or 8 parcels (depending on whether the approving officer requires a new highway through the four parcels). All attempts by Nature Trust to buy the Sahlins' interest were rebuffed. The Nature Trust applied in the partition action for an order for sale or, failing that, a partition that would leave the Nature Trust with an intact parcel. Those applications were dismissed by the court and the Nature Trust was left with 2 (or 4) separate parcels and the obligation to fund half the subdivision costs. This is the last wilderness on Savary Island and home to one of the best examples of a coastal dune ecosystem in Canada. The judgment may be read here. View the maps referred to in the judgment here: Map 1 and Map 3.
The Judge ordered lots 1 and 3 go to the Nature Trust of BC and lots 2 and 4 to the Sahlin family. This decision, if it stands, will break up the coastal dunes of Savary Island; one of the best examples of a coastal dune ecosystem in Canada. SILT viewed the patchwork partition/subdivision as a disaster. It left an area of remarkable ecological value open for development subject only to final approval by the approving officer. SILT objected to the manner in which the central role of the approving officer was bypassed by the application to court. The approving officer is bound to take environmental factors and public input into account in any subdivision application; but the court expressly stated that such considerations are irrelevant in a partition action.
SILT encouraged the Nature Trust to appeal, and many SILT members contributed funds for that purpose. The Appeal was heard on Friday December 3, 2010. We currently await the decision of the Court of Appeal.
DL 1375 is the largest groundwater recharge area on over subdivided Savary Island. Essentially it, is the heart and lungs of the Island. DL 1375 consists of 133 hectares (330 acres) in the middle of the island, and contains Western Canada’s only intact example of a forested dune ecosystem. Today we know that DL 1375 includes approximately 70% of the island’s unique Aeolian dunes that have formed over the past 10,000 years. Most coastal dune ecosystems are only a few hectares, but this parcel has 65 hectares of intact coastal and inland dunes and is home to intact archaeological sites, rare plant communities, ecosystems at risk and the rare Contorted Evening Primrose, listed as endangered under the Federal Species at Risk Act. Three of seven ecosystem types that are present on DL 1375 occur no where else in the world. DL 1375 is considered to be ecologically and biophysically significant on a provincial, national and a global basis for a number of the ecosystem types.
The following PDFs are available for further information about DL 1375:
- Sand Dune Ecosystems on Savary Island, B.C. with particular reference to D.L. 1375: A report by Dunster & Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd.
- News items regarding Sahlin family development projects in Washington State
- Has TNT made offers to purchase DL1375