COURTENAY, B.C- The timeline on a final decision for a large residential development near the Stotan Falls has been moved up by the Comox Valley Regional District.
3L Developments Inc has been trying to build a development west of Courtenay, on land near the falls.
As it is currently planned the development would cover 550 acres in the area, close to the fork of the Browns and Puntledge rivers. The site would have 740 homes, a commercial centre, and a self-contained water and sewage system.
The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) has consistently disagreed with the company’s plans, which led to a court battle.
3L won, with the B.C Supreme Court ordering the CVRD to consider the development as an amendment to their plans for growth in the Valley, which came before the district’s Committee of the Whole earlier in July.
While there was a unanimous decision to proceed with an amendment process, it was decided for the amendment to follow the “standard” process, instead of the “minor” process, which would be quicker.
During a CVRD special committee meeting yesterday, the question of whether or not the amendment would be minor or standard was voted on again, due to the first successful vote not requiring a unanimous decision.
After the vote was taken, it appeared that the amendment process would be handled with the standard method, which requires more consultation by the CVRD.
“It could be a longer process,” said CVRD board chair Bruce Jolliffe, at the time.
“It all depends on a number of factors, that are out of our control. If a lot of communities don’t think it’s a good idea, say Courtenay decides it’s not a good idea, or Comox doesn’t, then it could change.”
Communities outside the Valley would also have a chance to weigh in on the possible amendment, under the standard process.
The CVRD administration has now announced that the amendment process will be minor, due to the vote conducted on Wednesday being carried by majority.
The change was announced via a statement to the media, which is included below.
“In preparing the minutes for yesterday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Regional District staff considered the issue of whether the Committee’s vote on the process for proceeding with the amendment to the RGS (Regional Growth Strategy) proposed by 3L Development required a two-thirds majority or a simple majority vote for the Committee to recommend to the Board that it proceed as a minor amendment,” read the statement.
“Having reviewed the Regional District’s Procedure Bylaw, the RGS, and the applicable statutes, staff are of the view that there is an arguable issue as to the required vote.
“In the circumstances, and as the RGS makes clear that the determination of whether an amendment is a minor amendment must be made by the Board, staff have concluded that it is fair and reasonable to resolve the issue in favour of the applicant and have prepared the Minutes to reflect that the motion to proceed with the amendment as a minor amendment was carried on a simple majority vote of 5 to 3. ”
“By doing so, the matter will properly be on the agenda for the upcoming Board meeting and the Board will be in a position to fulfill its duty to determine, if the amendment is initiated, on a two-thirds majority basis whether the amendment will proceed as a minor amendment or, in default, as a standard amendment.”
In a statement, 3L spokesperson Pamela Groberman said the company was pleased with the CVRD’s vote.
““We believe strongly this vote will make the future handling of the project proceed much more quickly and fully expect the vote to be officially approved by the full CVRD board,” said Groberman.
“All we have ever wanted to achieve is to bring this community development to fruition after years of debate and we are fully prepared to have the wider regional community and public make its voice heard.”
The statement mentioned support from the public for a park around the Stotan Falls site, which would be included in the company’s plan for development.
“We have on record solid public support with many respondents saying this is the best way to preserve this parkland. Make it a park now, that is what we all want,” said Groberman, in the statement.
The company believes their development will create 470 jobs annually.
The CVRD board will meet next on July 24.