Staff and management of Tree Island Yogurt show off a Silver Award for Product of the Year at the FoodProWest Awards Gala in 2016. File photo

Courtenay yogurt maker looks to site in neighbouring community

Tree Island has variance application before Cumberland council for a facility

Cumberland council is considering a proposal for a Tree Island Yogurt facility on a site in the Village.

At Monday’s meeting, they were presented with a variance request for a site at 3901 Bevan Rd. This would subdivide the site into six lots, including space for the Tree Island facility. The area is located on a site north of the Comox Valley Waste Management facility, about 2.5 km northwest of the downtown core of Cumberland.

Beyond an ecological inventory and assessment report from Ecofish Research, required for the variance, there was little detail about the proposal. Staff emphasized this is all preliminary and the variance for the subdivision is only one phase.

“You will see another report,” planner Joanne Rees told council. “This is just about cutting it up into six lots.”

Still, it was clear there was some enthusiasm for the idea.

“I’m super-excited about this,” Coun. Vickey Brown said.

RELATED STORY: Demand doubles for Tree Island Yogurt in past year

According to the staff report, Tree Island wants to subdivide the 6.9-hectare site on Bevan, as well as construct a new facility on one of the lots. The company hired Ecofish to complete an inventory for the site, as required by the Village’s official community plan (OCP). The site is already zoned as industrial under the OCP, but is included in an environmental development permit area.

The report outlines a number of considerations such as the aquifer, soils, plant life and animals; potential impact; and possible mitigation measures. For example, while the report says there is a low likelihood of mortality for birds, it recommends measures such as confining work to clear or maintain vegetation and debris to seasons outside of breeding time for birds in the region.

At the report’s conclusion, it suggests future development on the other lots could require similar mitigation measures as the yogurt facility. Additionally, the consultants call for a survey of invasive plant species to be completed during growing season, as the site-level survey was conducted prior to “leaf-out” for most plants.

The bio-inventory is required as a condition of the development permit application. The inventory covers the whole property proposed for subdivision, while the impact assessment looks at only the site proposed for the yogurt facility. The report mentions the remaining properties would likely provide space for future light industrial development.

Council decided to refer the matter to its Advisory Planning Commission prior to a decision. They also considered whether to hold a public meeting. However, the sentiment among all members of council was that there are only two neighbouring properties, neither of which is residential, so they chose not to hold a meeting.

Tree Island is a Courtenay-based company that produces yogurt. Owners Merissa Myles and Scott DiGuistini started the company after returning from a trip to France during which they got to taste artisanal yogurt. It is based at 3747 Island Highway South.

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