Comox Valley Common Sense backer supported in parking bid
A Comox Valley Common Sense campaign contributor received support this week from the five Courtenay councillors endorsed by CVCS.
Detlef Kunz, owner of property at 841 Cliffe Ave., came before council Monday regarding his long-term efforts to buy a portion of the three lots adjacent to his property for parking — which were bought by the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) for emergency shelter/supportive housing purposes in 2010.
The project was put on hold after Courtenay council withdrew its support for the location and started a search for its own alternate property, according to the CVRD website. Some area businesses were against a homeless shelter in that location.
Courtenay council passed a motion to forward Kunz's e-mail to the CVRD, along with the suggestion that Kunz come before the CVRD in a delegation and that the CVRD consider leasing or selling a portion of the property to him.
Mayor Larry Jangula, Couns. Starr Winchester, Manno Theos, Bill Anglin and Jon Ambler, all endorsed by CVCS, voted in favour of the motion. Couns. Ronna-Rae Leonard and Doug Hillian, not endorsed by CVCS, opposed the motion.
Kunz owns 619763 BC Ltd., which was listed as making a $2,000 contribution to the CVCS campaign in the campaign financing disclosure statements released last month. However, he told the Record his campaign contribution has no bearing on his efforts to buy a piece of the land for parking.
He said he's been trying to buy part of the properties located at 865, 877 and 889 Cliffe Ave. since he bought his property a couple of years ago because his building lacks parking, but the CVRD bought all three before he could.
Kunz told council that he believed he could purchase a small strip of the land from the CVRD.
"When we found out that the buyer was the regional district we approached them for such a strip and they seemed very positive about the idea as the proposed shelter would not need that much space," said Kunz in his letter requesting a delegation to Courtenay council. "We also met with (then-) Mayor Phelps who favoured the idea and spoke to the R.D. on that subject."
However, Kunz said he hasn't got a straight answer from the CVRD or the City of Courtenay on the subject since the CVRD purchased the property back in 2010.
Meanwhile, he and his wife "recently spent a great deal of money" to fix up their building and planned to rent it out for their retirement income. Kunz said the uncertainty surrounding parking has made securing tenants difficult, and they lost a major tenant because of the issue.
City CAO Sandy Gray told council the CVRD owns the property and although council can offer its opinion, the CVRD has the final say.
But, CVRD corporate legislative officer James Warren said the CVRD is waiting on the City before making any decisions about the site. Although the CVRD had entered discussions on a possible Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BC Housing regarding the site becoming a homeless shelter in August, things were put on hold when the previous Courtenay council narrowly approved a motion directing staff to to issue a request for proposal for an alternate site for a homeless shelter in October.
CVRD "staff have discussed a possible MOU with BC Housing; however, given that the City of Courtenay 'request for expressions of interest' process for 'land suitable for locating a facility to provide assistance and accommodation for the homeless population in the community' has not concluded, no further activity has occurred," said Warren in an e-mail. "The CVRD is waiting (for) the outcome of the City of Courtenay’s process to better understand our options."
The RFP deadline was mid-January and council has been quiet regarding the issue.
Theos said he liked the concept of leasing a portion of the property — which the CVRD paid $470,000 for — to Kunz for the time being.
"Leasing it out for parking, I don't think changes the circumstances so if we go down that route it'll bring back some revenue to the taxpayers in the meantime," said Theos.
Hillian questioned whether undeveloped land could be used for parking without paving it first.
City director of development services Peter Crawford confirmed it could be.
Leonard was concerned about doing anything with the properties until their future is decided.
"I have a bit of trouble with the notion of moving forward on it when the issue — the purpose of those properties, why they were bought and the disposition of the whole issue — it starts to constrain the opportunities for positive resolution of the whole thing," said Leonard, adding she would prefer to see a referral to staff to look at the issue of parking in the area as a whole.
Jangula said he has researched the matter and there doesn't seem to be anywhere else that would work for Kunz.
"Quite frankly, I've looked at the parking since this matter's been up and I have no idea where else he could get in," said Jangula.