On municipal maps, there’s an alley, but now a hedge runs between two Crescent Street properties. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland holds off transfer of ‘alleyway’ property to homeowner

Village cites need to protect alleyways, while staff cite encroachment issues

Council passed a notion not to close and dispense of some alleyway property in Cumberland at its Nov. 12 meeting.

The request had been for the Village to transfer ownership of the municipal site to an adjacent homeowner. The alleyway in question is between 3349 Crescent St. and 3351 Crescent St.

“That’s the corridor that exists between Third Street and Crescent Street,” manager of development services Ken Rogers told council.

There are trees and a hedge on site, and there may be encroachments from neighbouring properties. The lane is not being used in any way, even as a pedestrian corridor.

The Village has no plans to develop this site in its Alley Enhancement and Maintenance Strategy from 2018. If the Village ever chooses to get rid of it, it would be disposed of at market value, according to the Province’s Community Charter. The adjacent property owner would pay for land appraisal and consolidation, legal services or other costs.

“It would be at zero cost to the municipality,” said Rogers, adding the project would take staff time and resources.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland sign project revitalizes alleyways

If the Village moves ahead, Rogers said it would have to address the issue of the properties encroaching on the land, citing a precedent-setting case from West Vancouver. This could be through measures such as encroachment agreements or removing structures. He added there are other examples of encroachment throughout the community, which could result in a labour-intensive process for the Village.

For now, Rogers said staff was seeking direction from council as to whether to proceed with a bylaw to transfer the alleyway.

The sentiment among council members, though, was that the Village needs to protect alleyways in the community. In this case though, the alley exists on maps but is not really visible.

Coun. Vickey Brown said she went to go look at the site and found a carport, parking spot and a hedge.

“The alleyway is not actually an alleyway anymore at all,” she said.

She has several concerns with the proposal, saying one of the reasons the Village did a survey of alleys was because it recognized their value.

“Especially as we densify our downtown core, those little green spaces become … little gems in a neighbourhoods, and so I feel like we need to hold on to them,” she said.

In this situation, she said, because someone has built on the site, it no longer functioning alley. Brown made a successful motion for staff not to move ahead with the disposition of the property at this time.

Other members of council expressed a wish not to do anything with the property. Mayor Leslie Baird said this case came before council many years earlier, though the request might have come from different homeowners. At that time, the Village denied it.

“We found it was important to keep the alleyways in the community,” she said.

Coun. Jesse Ketler also saw no reason to dispose of the alleyway and that it would open up too many questions for the Village, such as encroachment issues.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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