UNION BAY, B.C- Union Bay Estates is still on track.
The development, which officially launched in March of last year, will be bringing huge changes to Union Bay, a small community in the Comox Valley’s south end.
The project, run by a company formerly known as Kensington Island Properties (KIP), is planned to bring in a total of 2,949 homes in the lightly-populated area, under the name of Union Bay Estates.
According to Brian McMahon, who’s been working on the project for the last 19 years, the name change was meant to show the development as part of the community.
“Everyone has known us as KIP, or Kensington, or whatever,” said McMahon, at the time of the launch.
“We’re Union Bay. That’s who we are. We’re part of Union Bay, and we want to be fulfilling that name, that our development is Union Bay.”
The project will take up 346 acres in total, around the core of the current Union Bay community, with multiple phases.
An overall population increase of around 7,500 to 9000 people is expected once the project is complete, along with an influx of new businesses.
Work on the site has picked up in recent months, with land getting cleared along the Old Island Highway and near the Union Bay coal hills.
Reached on Monday, McMahon said everything is still on track, with applications in to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) for subdivision and a development permit to build an office for the company near the boat launch, across from their temporary trailer.
McMahon said those applications would be going in front of CVRD council in the next few months, with no delays in building at the site.
“As fast as we can get applications into the regional district, subdivision applications, we’re going to start building,” said McMahon.
The work at the site is clearing, putting in roads, and getting infrastructure in the ground, according to McMahon.
Large piles of soil have also been put together at the site, visible from the highway and covered with plastic.
“Our environmental consultants, they’re looking after everything for us, they’re environmental consultants that we’ve had for many, many years,” said McMahon.
“They know their role, and they look after it for the Ministry of Environment.”
The soil has attracted attention from concerned local residents, due to the area around the coal hills being contaminated from the old coal shipping operation.
The MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom sought comment from the provincial Ministry of Environment on the matter. According to the ministry, contaminated railbed soil was temporarily stockpiled as part of the pre-development land clearing, including the work to establish an access road.
A request to start the work was submitted to the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on September 24, 2018.
The stockpiles were located away from riparian areas, and covered to control erosion.
“Stockpiles subsequently became snow-covered and, following recent snowmelt, it was observed that the stockpile covers required repair/replacement,” read the statement from the ministry.
“SLR and their client, Union Bay Estates, are onsite addressing these circumstances to ensure appropriate environmental protection and longer term management in accordance with the Environmental Management Act and the Contaminated Sites Regulation.”
According to the ministry, SLR is the environmental monitor and “qualified professional” on the project, and will be submitting a report to the ministry for review and potential follow up.
The newsroom also sought comment from WorkSafeBC, after rumours of a stop-work order being put in place at the site.
According to the agency, there was no order in place at the work site, with none ever being issued.
“There are no outstanding orders for this workplace, the employers, or owners at this time,” read the statement from WorkSafeBC.
The environmental ministry also provided more information on the remediation work at the main coal hills site, southeast of Washer Creek.
According to their statement, West Fraser has had preliminary discussions with the CVRD about development permit requirements.
West Fraser is developing a detailed designed for a planned engineered cover of the coal pile, with the plan anticipated to be sent to the ministry for review in 2019’s second quarter.
SLR has told the ministry that no work is being carried out on the coal pile portion of the Union Bay site.
At the time of the launch, McMahon believed the coal hills would eventually become a provincial park.