TLC and HAT Promise to Enforce Sooke Hills Covenant if Required
Created: Thursday, 15 April 2010 14:34
HAT and The Land Conservancy of British Columbia have confirmed that, if necessary, they will enforce the provisions of a conservation covenant that they hold on Regional Park properties in the Sooke Hills, in order to prevent these areas from being accessed and destroyed by motorized off-road vehicles.
“We have every confidence that the CRD Board will, of its own accord, honour its commitment to the residents of this area and uphold the covenant agreement that it signed,” says TLC Executive Director Bill Turner today. “On behalf of the many thousands of our members and supporters who live in this region, we strongly encourage the CRD to send a strong message that conservation priorities in the Sooke Hills will not be compromised.”
A conservation covenant is a voluntary, written agreement between a landowner (in this case, the CRD) and a covenant holder (in this case, TLC and HAT). In the agreement, the landowner promises to protect the land in ways that are specified in the covenant. The covenant holder has the legal authority to enforce the covenant through the courts if the landowner does not abide by the terms of the covenant. The conservation covenant is registered against the title to the property, under section 219 of the Land Title Act. This ensures that the covenant will last permanently.
Whenever TLC, HAT, or any other land trusts in BC, has acquired property or contributed to the acquisition of property for park purposes, it has always ensured that a conservation covenant is placed on the property to ensure the protection of the site in perpetuity – and to prevent potential actions by a future government that may undermine the protection of the site.
The conservation covenant in place on the Sooke Hills properties specifically prohibits the off road use of motorized vehicles on the lands (except for emergency and service vehicles).
“The efforts being made by off-roading enthusiasts to gain access to the Sooke Hills are incompatible, in every way, with the protection of the area and with the provisions of the covenant,” says Adam Taylor, Executive Director of Habitat Acquisition Trust. “It is, by its very nature a destructive and disruptive activity, and it cannot be permitted in our protected areas.”
Both TLC and HAT stressed that they believe the CRD should simply re-affirm its long-standing policy prohibiting motor vehicle use in parks, and should move forward with the parks management plan for the area.