Statement from ReconciliACTION Oak Bay on today’s announcement re five-year
lease extension at Oak Bay marina/Spewhung site

Today’s announcement by the District of Oak Bay represents the effective restart of the process to determine the future of the Spewhung site that ReconciliACTION Oak Bay has been calling for since the community network was formed in September 2021. It’s the right decision.


The extension of the lease with the Oak Bay Marine Group for five years should provide the time and space for the District to get it right and develop a process that begins with meaningful and respectful conversations with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on mutual aspirations for the future of the Spewhung lands, waters and buildings, and the possibilities of economic and other partnerships and collaboration on the site. This is consistent with the District’s moral obligations as well as the legal responsibilities that flow from Oak Bay Council’s adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in February. It will also allow for provincial and federal participation. 


Spewhung represents the most significant opportunity to advance Reconciliation with substance in Oak Bay for at least the next generation. Today’s announcement also represents an opportunity for the District to provide more appropriate and robust community engagement in the decision-making process.  


ReconciliACTION Oak Bay would like to express its gratitude to the Oak Bay residents who took the time over the past year to reach out to Council and individual Councillors, to write letters and to start neighbourhood conversations advocating for a better process to determine the future of Spewhung. It would also like to express its appreciation to Council today for having heard those voices.  


ReconciliACTION Oak Bay looks forward to working with Council on concrete actions to advance Reconciliation with the local Nations and to continue the conversation on how best to work together that started with the District last week within its new Reconciliation process.


The most recent communication from ReconciliACTION Oak Bay to Council:  

Call to end the Oak Bay marina lands RFP- July 6, 2022

Dear members of Oak Bay Council:

On behalf of ReconciliACTION Oak Bay, we are calling on Council to: (a) bring an immediate end to the District’s Lease of Oak Bay Marina Lands and Marina Request for Proposals (RFP OBMH 07-2020) process and (b) announce that a new process to determine the future of the publicly owned marina buildings and Spewhung (Turkey Head) lands and waters will be initiated in the near future.

This new process must begin with respectful and meaningful conversations with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations about their interest in economic and other collaboration or partnership at the site.

It has been more than a year since the District announced that it had selected a proponent with whom to negotiate a new 30-year lease for the marina buildings, lands and waters. That decision was the result of a seriously flawed process that failed to consult the Nations in advance to determine their interests at a site that is clearly located within Lekwungen territory. 

Consultation and consent were at the very least a moral obligation then; they should now be recognized as a legal requirement in light of Council’s adoption this year of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

After a year of negotiations, the District has been unable to reach an agreement with the Oak Bay Marine Group. That process has exhausted every reasonable opportunity to succeed.

With barely three months until a municipal election, we respectfully ask Council to end the current RFP process now, and extend the existing lease by a term sufficient to allow for the appropriate exploration of the future of Spewhung. 

This would avoid tangling up such a critical community decision in the highly political election process, and, at the same time, send a strong signal to the Nations that Oak Bay has serious interest in Reconciliation with substance.

Yours sincerely for ReconciliACTION Oak Bay:

The Rev’d Canon Craig Hiebert
Bruce Kilpatrick
Maeve Lydon
Rev. Michelle Slater
Felicite Stairs
Bronwyn Taylor
Dawn Williamson

ReconciliACTION Oak Bay is a collaboration of Oak Bay-based organizations committed to taking concrete action to advance Reconciliation in our community. Its members are: Community Association of Oak Bay, Oak Bay United Church, St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Oak Bay Heritage Foundation and the UVic Living Lab Project