A contentious development proposal on property around Stotan Falls has re-appeared before the Comox Valley Regional District.
3L Developments, which for the past 13 years has tried to rezone land in Area C that includes part of the Browns and Puntledge rivers, is proposing to build 780 housing units and a shopping complex, and dedicating 97 hectares of park land on its property.
To do so, the district would need to amend the Regional Growth Strategy, a document that guides land use in the Valley. 3L is proposing a new settlement node, or ‘core settlement area’ — an electoral area designation that applies to Union Bay, Saratoga and Mt. Washington.
3L says the ‘Riverwood Settlement Node’ would include rental housing, and social and assisted housing. There would be opportunities for growing food. Private water and wastewater utilities would be owned and operated by a private entity.
“Riverwood is sited to protect the surrounding ecosystems, and access to greenway, bikeway and trail systems,” the company states in a submission to the district.
Last year, the BC Supreme Court dismissed 13 claims 3L made against the CVRD regarding the management of the application. On two previous occasions, 3L won court decisions after challenging the district about due process.
Planner Rob Buchan, who reviewed 3L’s options for future use of its land, spoke on behalf of the company at the June 15 Electoral Area Services Committee meeting.
“This proposal would preserve and protect the most important parts of the property,” Buchan said, noting the project will help address affordable housing in the Valley. “There are five titles associated with this. The community interest in acquiring the land, should this not go forward, will be more difficult to achieve.”
If the proposal continues to stall, owner Dave Dutcyvich would consider liquidating his economic interests in “whatever way he can,” which Buchan said would make it more difficult to acquire the greenways in the future.
Area A director Daniel Arbour said the project would stretch the district further to consider a new settlement node.
“It feels like we have our hands full with the three settlement nodes,” Arbour said, noting several large developments are already being handled throughout the Valley.
“Although I see a lot of great points, there’s a few too many factors that require goodwill of folks moving into this development,” Area B director Arzeena Hamir said.
Committee chair/Area C director Edwin Grieve questioned if 3L is considering the project on a 20-year timeline.
“I would have doubts about the market right now for investment of this sort,” Grieve said. “I would encourage my colleagues to look at this as a long-range project.”
While Arbour and Hamir were leaning towards denying the application, Grieve said that gathering community feedback could provide an opportunity for compromise that might work in the long-term.
“I think we have to look at this as a starting line for discussion,” Grieve said.
The committee voted to refer the application to various agencies and First Nations for comment.