Cumberland is considering a watershed protection zone for an area of Comox Lake.
The plan is part of an application to amend the official community plan (OCP) and rezone recreational cabin property at the lake. The item was on the agenda for the Aug. 9 council meeting.
The area includes cabins that have been on site for roughly a century, prior to any zoning, so they are considered legally non-conforming. At issue for cabin owners is a plan for subdivision for strata lots. The village staff report notes the intention is to change the zoning for the existing 25 cabins, which would permit the ability to subdivide into 25 strata lots.
The site is owned by the Comox Lake Land Corporation, made up of individual cabin owners, said senior planner Karin Albert. The individuals have rights such as the ability to sell their shares or transfer a lease to a new owner, but they can face difficulties getting mortgages.
Manager of development services Courtney Simpson added there are plans for renovations and expansion at the site. In response to some concerns from council about the possibility of enormous cabins being erected on the waterfront, she said, “The zoning actually could limit the size of the dwellings.”
A couple of council members pointed out some people live at the cabins year-round and wondered about the effect on the water quality, especially in light of the importance of the lake to local water systems for 49,000 Comox Valley residents.
Albert explained that the aim now is to get an early referral process started prior to the rezoning. Part of the process includes engaging with the K’ómoks First Nation and agencies such as the Comox Valley Regional District.
“It’s really to have a thorough review of the application,” she said.
The watershed protection zone, Albert added, would also be part of a separate process. Five years ago, the regional district released its Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan to protect drinking water at the lake from several risks, including regulated discharges or unmaintained septic facilities.
For Cumberland, a zone will cover the portion of lake property in village jurisdiction with the aim of limiting uses that could harm water quality and the drinking water supply.
“We would bring forward a draft resolution of what that might look like,” she said.
Council passed motions to engage stakeholders in an early referral process and to direct staff to draft a plan for the watershed protection zone.