Cumberland is considering a rezoning request for some cabins at Comox Lake. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland is considering a rezoning request for some cabins at Comox Lake. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland council refers cabin zone to Advisory Planning Commission

Protecting Comox Lake water quality is major issue for council, stakeholders

Cumberland’s council wants some more information about a proposed zoning change for an area of cabins on Comox Lake.

The Comox Lake Land Corporation had applied to the village for an official community plan (OCP) amendment and rezoning at the site on the lakefront to permit. The aim is to permit subdivision of the site, which has 25 cabins, for the purpose of creating 25 strata lots.

The matter came up in August 2021, with the village considering the development of a watershed protection zone.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland looks at OCP, zoning changes for cabins

As part of this process, it contacted area stakeholders. Staff presented an overview of the responses at the Aug. 8 council meeting. These included the regional district, K’ómoks First Nation (KFN), BC Hydro and Island Health.

Citing a potential conflict of interest, Mayor Leslie Baird removed herself from the discussion, so Coun. Gwyn Sproule took over as chair.

Not surprisingly, water quality concerns were one of the recurring themes, according to staff. For example, Island Health brought up the potential effects of increasing occupancy in the waterfront area. KFN brought up the question of what impact the proposal might have on water quality in light of the fact the cabins are on septic — specifically, what happens in the event of a system failure in the next 25 years.

“Everyone on the property has upgraded their system or put in holding tanks,” senior planner Karin Albert told council.

The Comox Valley Regional District expressed its view to keep the site as legally non-conforming rather than rezone it for the strata lots, particularly in light of the presence of the watershed.

“They quote their Regional Growth Strategy, which is not in support of new development in the watershed,” she said.

Another issue that came up was the status of the docks in front of the cabins, which could be repaired or updated but replacement would require permission from a board of variance. Albert said the docks will need to be replaced at some point, so the new zone would permit this for the current 16 docks but no others. Similarly, owners would need to get variances to update or repair the buildings, which is permitted under provincial legislation.

Members of council brought up a number of issues with the plan, especially around the effects of increased development close to a major water source.

“There are a lot of variables to consider with this,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said. “It is a watershed area.”

She added the stakeholders do not want more development at the site and that there needs to be better regulation.

Coun. Vickey Brown brought up the question of what effect rezoning might have on nearby areas such as Perseverance Creek and its fish stocks.

While Sproule chaired the discussion, she provided some historical context, saying the cabins went up at the time of a strike in Cumberland, back when there was no zoning, and they were not intended as full-time homes.

“They were never meant to be full-time, year-round cabins,” she said.

For now, council passed a motion to refer the matter to the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) for comment.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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