In a 4-3 vote, Comox council decided to proceed with a request to subdivide a lot in the Point Holmes/Cape Lazo area, going against Official Community Plan regulations.
Council reviewed an application for an OCP amendment, a rezoning application and a development permit for 1153 Tara Road, a 7,000-square metre vacant lot.
The proposal was to rezone to a new comprehensive development zone to subdivide the property into two single-family lots. When the area incorporated into town boundaries in 2006, the principle guiding land-use decisions during incorporation was that “already established usage and character of the area be maintained and that the natural surrounding be protected as much as possible,” noted planners Marvin Kamenz and Regina Bozerocka in their report to council.
Coun. Ken Grant noted the decision was a difficult one, as he sat on council when the incorporation initially took place.
“The people on Lazo were very stuck on their larger lot sizes. If we allow this, there could be some implications along Kye Bay and certain in the Lazo area. Part of the reason they came back into town way back when was to get water but the real appeal was that they were able to keep their rural appeal back then. When we look at this, we start to erode that just a little bit.”
Coun. Pat McKenna noted a significant number of homes that could be built by subdividing to 0.86 of an acre. He referenced a recent build by Habitat for Humanity in the Comox Valley that built 10 homes on a similarly-sized lot.
“While I’m not advocating density in this area, I’m advocating a rural subdivision inside the town limits is a paradox in 2021. In 2021, we have no housing for people, we have limited ability for kids to move back to our town,” he said.
Noting a lack of public transportation and lower land prices for infill closer to the centre area of the town, Coun. Maureen Swift noted approving the request opens the door to further subdivision requests which would further alter the OCP.
Mayor Russ Arnott replied the lots are still around one acre in size and would maintain its country-estate feel.
“I think the OCP is a living document, and there are changes that have to be made … We have an opportunity to have a family to come into that area and it’s still going to retain large size – it’s still going to stay the same form and character.”
Jordan Wall, the town’s CAO warned council on making a decision on the story on what the land would be used for.
“It may be used as intended right now, but there’s nothing that would stop those parcels once subdivision happened to be sold the next day to private developers. It’s just something to keep in mind. Council does not have control on how those parcels will be used after the subdivision happens.”
In a vote for the town to proceed with the application, Couns. Alex Bissinger, Stephanie McGowan, McKenna and Mayor Arnott voted in favour, with Couns. Nicole Minions, Grant and Swift opposed.
A public hearing for the application will be set for a future date.