Courtenay council approved third reading of a phased development agreement that gives Buckstone Investments an alternate route option for an off-site trail in South Courtenay.
Upon completion, the project will feature about 300 properties on more than 70 acres near Fraser and Comox logging roads.
The alternate trail option would go along Beachwood Road to the foreshore before heading north to Millard Road and connecting to the existing Courtenay Riverway South trail. The original option would contribute to the Rails With Trails project that will eventually extend from Courtenay to Victoria next to the railway tracks on the E&N corridor.
At a Monday public hearing before third reading, several members of the public favoured the initial proposal. Some are concerned the alternate option would disturb shorebirds.
“The rail trail is not a trail to nowhere, as the developer suggested,” Millard Road resident Valerie Graham said.
Island Highway South resident Don Nickason questioned why Courtenay is involved in regional district property extending from Buckstone to the railway.
“I think it’s a slippery slope to have a developer ask for amendments outside his development,” Nickason said. “Where is that going to end?”
Staff confirmed both trails are in Area A of the CVRD.
Couns. Ronna-Rae Leonard and Doug Hillian opposed third reading.
Leonard favours the original plan, mindful of a desire to develop Fitzgerald Avenue as a cycling route.
Hillian said it is unfortunate that some residents consider their lives to be disrupted by something beyond their control. He suggested delaying the resolution to clarify the proposal, but staff said time is ticking to get the subdivision registered.
Coun. Jon Ambler would prefer to see the developer, not taxpayers, fork out money for a section of trail.
“This is an amenity, which means he’s (developer) paying for it,” Coun. Bill Anglin said.
Mayor Larry Jangula said the route along the railway will eventually be built — it’s a question of which trail will be completed first.