Longtime Comox Valley resident Dave Mellin thinks a workable solution can be found to protect the privately-owned land around Stotan Falls in Area C of the regional district.
Speaking on behalf of concerned citizens, Mellin has compiled a Stotan Falls Legacy Project in an effort to preserve green space in the Puntledge corridor. He has presented the idea to regional directors and to Courtenay council.
Mellin says residents worry that landowner 3L Developments is going to recoup costs by logging or removing gravel from the area — as happened at the Browns River, which had been a pristine area but was logged up to the edge of the medicine bowls.
He encouraged council to consider a motion to agree in principle to explore ideas, alternatives and options to preserve the legacy property at Stotan Falls for future generations, as identified as a major goal in the Regional Growth Strategy.
“I’d hate to lose that beautiful, pristine look to the falls,” Mellin said Nov. 16 at Courtenay council. “I think we’re all well aware this property has been contentious to begin with, and 14 years later there’s still no viable solution…Our friend Ruth Masters would have championed this effort, and would no doubt be extremely disappointed in the loss of this green space.”
District directors have repeatedly turned down applications from 3L to subdivide and develop lands near Stotan Falls, which for years had been a popular swimming hole. The company had hoped to build 780 residential units in the area. In 2017, 3L owner Dave Dutcyvich had a toll booth constructed on Duncan Bay Main between the Puntledge River and Forbidden Plateau Road. The booth has since come down, but the gates remain closed to motorists. Dutcyvich has also closed surrounding trails to the public.
Coun. Manno Theos agrees Stotan Falls is a valuable asset in community. Since the land is privately owned, he asked how council can help move the conversation forward.
Mellin thinks the owner is willing to negotiate, and thinks a workable solution is possible.
“The longer this drags out, the more expensive the cost of land is becoming,” Mellin said. “It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that it’s saved.”
“It’s easy to say no, but this is something we’re going to be looking at for a long time if this thing goes south on us,” Mellin added. “We have enough intelligent people in this community that I think we could go in a room and come out with a solution that works for everybody.”
Coun. Doug Hillian, noting the lack of a regional parks function, asked Mellin if he thinks citizens would be willing to contribute extra tax dollars to establish a regional parks fund to acquire special properties such as this.
“By all means,” Mellin said. “I think this last nine months has proven the fact that we need these parks and areas…To add this jewel to solidify the whole run from the (Comox) Dam right down to the Courtenay Airpark would be supported if the public were aware of what’s going on here.”