Courtenay council gave the green light this week to move forward with another annexation into the city, this one a piece of land that has caused plenty of controversy over the years.
Crown Isle’s 40-acre parcel called Lannan Lands, also known as Lannan Forest, sits on Lannon Road in the Comox Valley Regional District but is located next to developed Crown Isle land in the City of Courtenay.
Crown Isle requested the annexation and council directed City staff to complete the required advertising and referrals to government agencies necessary to move forward.
A few weeks ago, council also moved ahead with advertising and referrals required to annex an area in South Courtenay which includes 100 properties; an area called Beaver Meadow Farms in the area of Ryan and Anderton Roads; and the first property, Baptist Church on Lake Trail Road, of what is expected to be a larger expansion in the Arden Road area in the future.
All areas, including Lannan Lands, are consistent with the Comox Valley’s Regional Growth Strategy and the City’s Official Community Plan.
At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard pointed out Lannan Lands has been “subject to a lot of controversy over the years.”
More than nine years ago, council voted in favour of annexing the land — which was a provincially owned parkland at the time — but the process was stopped after receiving enough signatures on a petition to force a referendum on the issue.
Then, the Province sold the parcel to Silverado Land Corporation, affiliated with Crown Isle, nearly eight years ago for just over $1 million. Then-called Comox Strathcona Regional District had made a joint bid with various groups and individuals, but were beat out by more than $400,000.
The land was logged nearly two years ago which generated public outcry.
Under its current zoning of Rural Eight, two lots would be permitted on the parcel. Jordan Cook Associates’ report to council on behalf of Crown Isle noted it would be “reasonable” to extend the existing zoning at the bordering Crown Isle property enabling development of Lannan Lands.
City director of development services Peter Crawford reminded council any rezoning would have to wait until annexation is complete.
“Of course the City would have to go through a process, with the owner, to change any zoning, develop any plans on this — so should it become part of the city, there’s another process it’d have to follow before anything could occur — but it does put the City in a place in managing their future,” he said.
Leonard spoke of lost environmental attributes since the land was logged and suggested council hold off on annexation of the area.
“This is an opportunity for us to express the political will of the community that recognized those values and say that ‘if you want to go forward with an annexation, this is the opportunity to seek restoration of some of those attributes,’ and ensure in going forward, we don’t lose sight of what was there and what could be there again,” she said. “I would prefer to see that sort of thing be considered first, before an annexation request is accepted.”
Coun. Manno Theos said he believes the land would have more protection under Courtenay’s control.
“If that property was within the city, and not as it was within the regional district, I do recall that there would have been a lot more protection pieces in place as to where it was and what could have been done with it at that time, so I have a feeling that the City of Courtenay may be the right place to express those values,” said Theos. “My experience on the regional district is that the way they will conduct themselves as in terms of development on our properties is not in my opinion at the same level as the City of Courtenay.”
The annexation moved forward with Leonard opposed. Coun. Doug Hillian was not present.