News

Ailing elderly couple unable to subdivide rural property in Merville

An elderly couple having a tough time making ends meet had hoped to free up their retirement nest egg by subdividing a property in Merville.

Their plan, however, does not comply with regional district regulations.

"This is not in agriculture land," said Aino Nilsson, 79. "We have no clear answer."

She and her 82-year-old husband had shared the Armstrong Road property with their daughter and son-in-law for about 20 years. Two homes were constructed with separate services at each end of the property.

However, health concerns forced the Nilssons to move to an apartment in Victoria. Daughter Eva McArthur and her husband help pay their parents' rent but cannot afford to buy them out.

Eva said they tried to go through the Comox Valley Regional District. To her understanding, the property is not located within three nodes where higher-density development would be considered under the Regional Growth Strategy.

"That leaves a whole range of people where we are that are locked into these larger properties that are very hard to sell because families can't afford a big property," Eva said. "There's no reason it needs to stay this large. It's not farmland; it's all rocks, basically."

A subdivision, she added, would not increase traffic or building activity.

"All we wanted was to separate the two properties so that we could sell," Eva said, noting other residents in Black Creek are facing the same obstacles. "It's ridiculous the hoops you have to go through. They (CVRD) won't even consider the situation and that there are real people involved."

The CVRD told McArthur the proposed subdivision does not comply with zoning, the policies of the Official Community Plan or minimal lot areas outlined in the Regional Growth Strategy.

"An application for subdivision was never made with the Province," said Alana Mullaly, the CVRD's manager of planning.

She said some residents in Settlement Expansion Areas are not able to subdivide. This, however, does not apply to the application in question.

"They're very much in a rural area," Mullaly said. "They were proposing urban-size lots."

She notes the Nilssons made a development variance permit application, but said the request to permit reduced lot areas is not allowed through a variance, as per the Local Government Act.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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