Development proposal in Courtenay draws mixed reviews

A consultant for Silverado Land Corporation says an information meeting and written submissions have shown broad support for a development proposal next to the Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community. But several attendees at a Monday public hearing at Courtenay council spoke out against the Lannan Road proposal, which includes about 330 units.

Merville resident Gillian Anderson asked council to postpone the rezoning process until it has sufficient information on the hydrology of the Brooklyn Creek watershed and the value of the “remnant forest” to ensure stable flow levels for the creek, and to replenish the aquifer. She says an environmental review of the property did not include a bird, insect or amphibian survey.

“I ask council and Mr. (Rick) Waldhaus (Silverado CFO) to consider the hydrological advantages of conserving in its entirety the remaining seasonal wetland forest on this proposed property,” said Anderson, noting a goal of Courtenay’s Official Community Plan is to ‘protect environmentally sensitive areas and support sustainable development practices.’

She suggests the developer donate a quarter of the site (about 10 acres) to Courtenay taxpayers, in exchange for development rights.

Crown Isle Drive resident Bob Kitchen, strata president at Britannia Place next door to the proposed site, spoke in support of the rezoning.

“This development will complete our strata, and owners look forward to the security of knowing how their neighbourhood may be impacted by rezoning and new construction,” Kitchen said. “We are satisfied that as new parcels come into the plan for Crown Isle, no buildings adjacent to Britannia Place will be more than two storeys high.”

Birkshire Boulevard resident Doug Forbes-King feels the development is a natural progression to the property.

“I think the plan incorporates a lot of the benefits that are there, by combining some trails together. We have people here that can’t find places to live. More development of this nature is a benefit. We really feel as neighbours that this is a positive thing.”

Atlas Road resident Chris Holding is concerned about traffic increase on Anderton Road.

“We find it hard to walk on Anderton as it is,” he said, noting drivers who exceed the 60 km/h zone. “It’s putting a lot of stress on families in the area. I understand we need some development, but I find it a bit aggressive.”

A number of years back, Holding attended a meeting where pedestrian walkways were to be installed along Anderton.

“That hasn’t been fulfilled,” he said.

Britannia Place resident Wilfred Dreher finds the plan to be “ass backwards” because the most dense area is at the farthest corner of Crown Isle. He would rather see it closer to the centre of town.

Heidi May, a longtime resident of Parry Place near Anderton, said development has filled swamps and channeled waters, resulting in drainage issues over the years in the Anderton corridor.

“Drainage from Longlands Golf Course (The Park) has been negatively impacting my property for many years,” May said. “Before any of this development proposal can go ahead, a drainage study must be done.

“This has been going on for 40 years. It is ever compounding, and we have not been heard.”

Parry Place residents Nick and Tanya D’Aoust have lived adjacent to Crown Isle Lake’s retention pond for 17 years.

“In no way can stormwater from this site come into flow into the Brooklyn Creek drainage system,” Nick said. “The stormwater of Lake 20 has been a recurring nuisance to us.”

He concurs with May that a comprehensive drainage study is needed, considering the magnitude of the development, and considering affected properties downstream.

“Nobody is taking ownership of the stormwater. I think a lot of thought has to be given to where’s that stormwater going to.”

Britannia Place resident Ed Fudge is also concerned about drainage of the area, and the wetland. He noted Crown Isle’s “past desecration of the upper Brooklyn Creek to the west of the new Crown Isle Drive.

“Five years ago that was a salmon-bearing habitat. The gradual eroding away of habitat has got to stop. They’re practising death by 1,000 cuts.”

Speaking on behalf of Silverado, planner Richard Cook said the company has received support from the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership and the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society. The site, he added, has been subjected to a review, and received recommendations from a forester and a biologist.

Crown Isle also intends to work with the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society to deliver affordable housing to the homeless “at an early date,” Cook added.

Megan Ardyche, who lives on Lancaster Way in Comox, implored council to consider how the development fits into the Urban Forestry Strategy and Natural Assets Inventory, as opposed to only considering housing and generating profits for developers.

“I have a difficult time imagining Crown Isle is going to welcome homeless people into the area,” Ardyche said. “I would take that with a grain of salt.”

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