Frustrations with city process results in postponement of subdivision development

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

Silverado Group of Companies has decided to postpone its application to construct a subdivision north of Ryan Road because it cannot obtain approval from the City of Courtenay’s engineering department.

CEO Ron Coulson had hoped to start constructing the 31-lot Rise subdivision by April of this year, in time for the spring real estate market.

In a letter to city CAO David Allen, Coulson claims engineering staff have “continually found reasons why approvals could not happen in a timely and professional manner.”

He believes the city’s process is not working due to unnecessary expenses and unrealistic requirements.

Crown Isle is a subsidiary of Silverado. Along with builders, the companies were planning $15 million worth of investment over the next year. They were also in discussion with a $25-million big box store.

“Virtually every developer, including VIHA, has felt frustration with the engineering department within the City of Courtenay,” Coulson said. “For 26 years all mayors and councils have generally been in full support of our development.”

Lately, however, he says a “quagmire” of bureaucracy has “brought the process to a near standstill.”

At committee of the whole Sept. 29, staff will provide an update on internal improvements to the development process. The meeting will include details about a Development Application Review Team (DART) where various departments collectively review applications, troubleshoot, exchange ideas and identify issues.

“We have new specs and standards coming on that will provide some measure of certainty for what’s required through subdivisions,” Allen said. “Because these things are complex and there’s so many iterations of plans, there’s just a host of details, and those things need to get sorted out. I can assure you that the city is very much interested in working with the development community, and wants to make sure we improve our internal processes.”

He notes a revamped development procedures bylaw that enables permit approval at the department head level, as opposed to council approval.

“We’re going to see some significant change over the next several months,” Allen said.


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