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CVRD staff recommending denial of settlement node for 3L development

COURTENAY, B.C- The staff of the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) are recommending that a new settlement node in the Valley not be approved.

The recommendation for denial is the latest development in an ongoing process, stemming by a development proposal from 3L Developments Inc.

The company is aiming to build 1,000 homes on land in and around the meeting point of the Puntledge and Brown rivers, with private water and wastewater services.

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) has consistently disagreed with the company’s plans, which led to a court battle.

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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 would require the addition of a settlement node to the district’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

A recent open house in September was part of a consultation plan approved by the district, which is looking at the change to the growth plan as a standard amendment.

According to the agenda documents for the next meeting of the CVRD board of directors, the steering committee for the RGS has met twice, on September 20th and 27th.

Both times, the committee was reviewing reports from the Technical Advisory Committee, made up of CAO’s from each community in the Valley and planning representatives. They had been looking at the relative need for a new settlement node, as well as the impacts of a new node.

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“At their September 27, 2018 meeting, the Steering Committee endorsed TAC’s recommendation to deny the application to create a new Settlement Node,” read the agenda.

“The Steering Committee recommends that the board deny 3L Development Inc.’s application.”

According to the agenda, the foundational principle underlining the recommendation is that a new node isn’t needed “at this time” due to the relative housing unit supply, population projections, and demographic trends in the valley.

The agenda also states that the board is under no obligation to continue 3L’s application.

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“Relative to the Local Government Act (RSBC, 2015, c. 1) (LGA), BC Court of Appeal decision, or the Board’s Consultation Plan: all process requirements have been met,” read the agenda.

The board of directors will be able to give the amendment first reading on October 2nd, 2018, or deny the amendment.

“If the board advances the application to first reading of an amending bylaw, a second public open house will be held on November 13, 2018, and subsequent public hearing on November 29, 2018,” read the agenda.

More details on the reasoning behind the recommendation can be found at this link:

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A letter from Mark Holland, a development consultant brought onboard by the company to work as a consultant for the amendment process, was attached to the agenda. It outlined the company’s stance on some of the points raised at the recent open house.

Development consultant Mark Holland speaks to the room at the Florence Filburg Centre on Thursday, September 7th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

“There appears to be a misunderstanding in the community that there is an option to not have it developed but have it stay the way it is,” read part of Holland’s letter.

“The land owner states that it is his intention to finish logging the site and to pursue gravel extraction as well, wherever feasible if the proposed project is not approved. Gravel extraction requires additional approvals but it is his intent to try to realize value out of the lands.”

The letter goes on to raise the possibility of the 3L lands getting fenced off in future.

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“Even if resource extraction is not pursued by the current land owner and instead he sells large estate lots in accordance with the RGS, it is highly likely that the land may then face resource by others or it may be fenced and made inaccessible to the public,” read Holland’s letter.

“While the RGS implicitly envisions a bucolic rural residential image, the reality is that governments have little control over clearing on private rural land and that is to be expected in this situation. In staff’s communications to the Board, we request that staff make this information clear that the only way to preserve the land in a park like, conservation manner with public protection and access, is to support this proposal which gives 50% of the land to the public in exchange for the proposed development rights to the other 50% of the land.”

Holland later states that the “choice is not between development or no development, it is between a clear cut or a park”.

An agreement between the company and K’ómoks First Nation on water supply is also mentioned in Holland’s letter.

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“KFN have rights to a significant amount of water from the Comox Lake / river system but have no ability to get water treated and to their lands adjacent Riverwood,” reads Holland’s letter.

“In their agreement, KFN will provide the water for both Riverwood and their lands, and Riverwood will provide the infrastructure for treatment and conveyance through their water utility. Without this system, KFN faces formidable challenges in getting water to their lands to support economic development.”

The meeting will start at 4:00 p.m. in the CVRD board room.

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