Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht

Comox to move forward with stormwater management decision

Northeast Comox lands have been a historical flood plain and regularly floods

The Town of Comox staff has recommended their option on the town’s Northeast Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) to council, which will be examined at tonight’s (Jan. 20) strategic planning committee meeting.

Town staff has recommended that council proceeds with implementation on option three – where property owners, either individually or jointly, are granted the right to design and build detention ponds and infiltration galleries for their own properties as the preferred solution for Northeast Comox storm drainage.

At an April 1, 2020 regular council meeting, council announced they passed a resolution at its March 18, 2020 in-camera meeting that council endorses option three, subject to receiving comments from the area residents, property owners and the public, and that the town holds an open house in order to receive feedback on the preferred storm drainage plan for Northeast Comox.

The Northeast Comox lands have been a historical flood plain and regularly floods with current stormwater conditions and mitigations. The lands have been unable to develop due to the downstream flooding liabilities the town would incur.

According to Jordan Wall, the town’s chief administrative officer, he noted in a report the town is not willing to take on the upfront risk of the infrastructure development and no single landowner being large enough to provide the one or two larger sized ponds as recommendations for option three.

He explained the downstream area has already been the subject of a lawsuit in the past and landowners have informed the town and its representatives that they are prepared to undertake court action against the town should development in Northeast Comox increase flooding or related damage.

Stormwater nuisance has resulted in a number of court cases across B.C. with municipalities being found at fault or having contributory negligence.

“With the town signaling preference for this option, land acquisition within the area has started to take place in anticipation of pond locations and to allow larger sized ponds to be constructed. Fewer larger ponds will result in lower upfront and long-term costs which have provided incentive for landowners and developers to work together,” he said.

The town originally scheduled an open house Nov. 20, 2020, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the open house format was modified to virtual meetings with staff.

Should the town decide to proceed with the preparation of implementing bylaws based on option three, it is anticipated that adoption of the bylaws and processing of applications would allow for subdivision/development to commence in 2022.

Due to pandemic regulations, the public will not be permitted to be in attendance for the meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. The meeting can be livestreamed on the town’s YouTube page at: https://bit.ly/391kxis



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