Project Watershed has purchased and transferred land in a bare trust agreement, whereby the society is holding the Kus-kus-sum property in trust for the City of Courtenay and the K’ómoks First Nation.
An important piece for the future involves finalizing some of the land acquisition and documents. A partner meeting in January will further these conversations.
The intent of the Kus-kus-sum project is to return the abandoned sawmill site to its pre-colonial state, and to provide a natural habitat for plant and wildlife. The eventual ownership will fully transfer to the KFN.
The main restoration goal is to naturalize the shoreline and re-connect it to the Courtenay River. To do so, Project Watershed needs to regrade and recontour the site to support tidal marsh and vegetation, create habitat for salmon and wildlife, and reconnect the river through the adjacent Hollyhock channel systems.
Restoration is planned for three phases. It started this year with concrete and asphalt removal from 8.3 acres. Next year is earth works and planting, with further planting and reconnecting to the river planned for 2023.
The total project budget is about $5.5 million. Year one is $1.4 million, and the second year is $3.3 million, of which $850,000 is secured. Year three is budgeted at $710,000.
Secondary suite proposal
Council approved a staff recommendation to release a covenant restricting a secondary suite at 2948 Cascara Cres.
The property sits in a cul de sac. In November, council directed staff to seek input from neighbours before making a decision. So far, the city has received seven responses from six households, three in support and four opposed. The latter wish to retain the single-family nature of the neighbourhood. Those opposed also feel that covenants should be upheld. They also harbour parking and traffic concerns.
Air quality, wood smoke
Council supports continued development of a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy, and encourages the CVRD to adopt bylaws for electoral areas to limit activities that contribute to poor air quality in the region. Courtenay experiences periods of poor air quality in winter. This is caused by a fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emitted from wood burning appliances, and atmospheric temperature inversions.
Noting the significance of the issue, Coun. Wendy Morin feels the city needs to consider how to respond in a way that does not shame people but drives home the point that the way wood is being burned in homes is negatively impacting people’s health.
Council also directed staff to continue to represent the city at Regional Airshed Committee meetings. The committee expects to implement an airshed protection strategy from May 2022 to 2023.