Comox Valley Regional District responds to 3L Developments assertions

3L Developments wants to turn its parcel of land around Stotan Falls into a residential development. The developer claims the regional district is dragging its feet. The RD says it’s simply doing its due diligence. File photo.

The Comox Valley Regional District has taken issue with a recent paid advertisement that ran in the Comox Valley Record.

The 3L Developments ad, which ran as a “false front” in the Dec. 12 issue, attacked the CVRD and questioned its governance policies.

In 2006, 3L Developments purchased a 495-acre parcel of land around Stotan Falls from TimberWest Forest Corp., with visions of developing the area into a residential community.

The advertisement stated the last 11 years have been spent dealing with “bureaucratic wrangling” and “stonewalling” and he suggests that “it is as though time has stood still.”

Regional district chief administrative officer Russell Dyson said such statements do not reflect the process.

“First and foremost, as I have expressed to David (3L Developments founder Dave Dutcyvich) and I want to express to the public, this matter will be processed in a fair manner, in accordance to processes set out by our bylaws and the local [Municipal] Government Act,” Dyson said. “The regional district takes its role very seriously, and we — the staff and directors — will be ensuring that we respond to any application or proposal in a fair and unbiased way.”

The advertisment also insinuated that there are personality conflicts between Dutcyvich and CVRD management.

In one segment of the advertisment, presented as A Conversation with Dave Dutcyvich, he “discusses” a court ruling whereby the CVRD was to consider 3L’s application in accordance with “the mandatory process that is set out in the Municipal Government Act.”

Dutcyvich is then “asked” whether this process has happened.

“No,” he responded, in the ad. “Anne (sic) MacDonald, the planner director from the CVRD told us that notwithstanding the Court’s direction, ‘it would be a frosty Friday in hell, before I would approve your application.’ ”

CVRD general manager of Planning and Development Services, Ann MacDonald, was appalled to read that statement.

“The quote is very unprofessional,” she said in an interview with the Comox Valley Record. “It’s not something I would say; it’s not something I did say… . Also, it’s not a responsibility of mine, to approve applications. That is done by the elected officials… and I can’t see elected officials, either, disregarding court direction. It suggests that regardless of court direction, I am not doing something, which, a) I don’t have authority to do and b) nobody would do. And it is vulgar language, which is another very unprofessional [approach].”

Dyson concurred on the decision-making process, and stands behind MacDonald in all regards.

“Staff don’t make these decisions — these are the decisions of the board,” he said. “We are there to support the process and that’s our role, but ultimately, these are decisions to be made by the board — and in the case of a Regional Growth Strategy, it also involves a high level of engagement with our municipal partners.

“We have full trust in, and support for Ann, and Ann and her staff will be here to treat any application in a fair and reasonable manner,” he added.

MacDonald said any such application has to follow procedures and that is all the CVRD is doing in this case.

“What’s important to note is that there is a process that’s in place to review this application in a fair and timely manner,” she said. “We’ve made several written commitments to the applicant, to assure the applicant that the matter will be approached and processed in a fair manner, in accordance with the [guidelines] set out in the Comox Valley Regional District Regional Growth Strategy, and in Part 14 of the Local Government Act, which clearly lays out a process to amend the Regional Growth Strategy. To that end, we have notified the applicant to the proposed timing for that, and the steps, and also again committed that the staff will be bringing this matter to the regional board for its approval in a timely and fair manner. So, again, we emphasize that it’s a board decision and there is a really clearly laid out statutory process that we will be diligently following.”

MacDonald said 3L was notified via email on Dec. 6 of the timing and the process moving forward.

The board will be presented with a status update on the 3L application in January. The update is expected to be on the agenda for the next CVRD committee of the whole meeting.

In April of 2018, the CVRD plans to take a staff report and a preliminary report to the CVRD board in order for decisions to made on two matters:

1) whether this is to be considered a minor, or standard amendment (to the RGS), and

2) does the board wish to proceed with initiating the amendment.

“The Regional Growth Strategy… took a great deal of consultation with the development community, and with the public, to ensure that all interests were accounted for,” added Dyson. “It is the document that guides developments to ensure that the economy, the environment and the social values in the Comox Valley are protected.”

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