Oyster Bay residents hope to build beneficial equestrian community

The lands are located just off Highway 19A south of Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe lands are located just off Highway 19A south of Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
Inside the barn. Mirror photoInside the barn. Mirror photo
Daryl Hagen says ‘there’s something soulful about the whole thing.’ Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorDaryl Hagen says ‘there’s something soulful about the whole thing.’ Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The equestrian centre has a larger-than-Olympic-sized riding ring. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe equestrian centre has a larger-than-Olympic-sized riding ring. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The 22-stall barn will be one of the central spots in the new community. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe 22-stall barn will be one of the central spots in the new community. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The barn also has a rider room. Photos by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe barn also has a rider room. Photos by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
The properties will be between 5 and 43 acres. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River MirrorThe properties will be between 5 and 43 acres. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
Brooks is one of the horses calling the barn home.Brooks is one of the horses calling the barn home.

Down a dirt road not far from the ocean, Daryl Hagen was sitting in the shade overlooking his legacy project.

He was at a patio table in front of an expansive horse barn, looking over what he hopes one day soon will be the new Oyster Bay Rural Residential Community. He and his neighbours have envisioned a new neighbourhood built and designed by the residents of Oyster Bay around a low density, family-oriented rural lifestyle, with an equestrian facility at its centre.

Hagen hopes it’s more than that, however. He wants to be able to give back to the community that has given so much to him over the years.

“What I’m hoping is that we can leave a footprint. I’ll never be finished with this in my lifetime. We’re sojourners… I would like to leave a place where families can come and live, we could have food security, a place for them to expand, water security, trails that will interconnect so people can go horseback riding,” he said. “This whole area could be opened up in a nice way for people to raise their children and be that Campbell River that I grew up in.”

The goal is to subdivide the existing eight lots in the area to 34, each averaging 11 acres. Lot sizes will range from five to 43 acres. The proponents hope the homestead-sized lots, along with an economy of scale for things like utility hook ups lower the barrier to entry for younger families and bring more housing diversity to the Campbell River area.

“We’ve seen that now with COVID, who knows what’s happening next. There’s going to be floods, fires and who knows what going on. It’s just nice if we can have affordable places where people can raise their families and grow up here,” Hagen said.

The proposal is before the Strathcona Regional District and requires a rezoning and OCP amendment for Electoral Area D, but the proponents are confident that gaining public approval will help move the project forward. The proposal includes a vineyard (already in development), as well as a veterinary facility, tack shop, riding and cycling trails and small-scale agriculture and farm-gate sales that will bolster the local economy.

“We’re trying to live with the system,” Hagen said. “We want the waterways preserved, we want to ensure the lands that are dedicated as wetlands stay that way. When you have a large piece of property, we can do that.”

Dependable wells in the area mean water should not be a problem, and septic systems will be installed to avoid costly sewage hookup costs. The plan is also to build sustainably and in an environmentally-friendly way. Hagen is hoping that the economies of scale that go into a project like this can bring down the entry price and give families with young children the chance to build a home.

“What you’re looking out is being able to spread the costs of the development out,” Hagen said. “Because of the size of it, you can lower the cost down for everyone.”

The SRD have started the consultation process, reaching out to a number of different interest groups for comment.

However, Hagen and the proponents still need to prove that there is a community interest for something like this. A petition is available to sign, and statements of support can be sent to oysterbaylands@shaw.ca. More information is available online.

“You come in here and hear the horses just munching away, there’s something just soulful about the whole thing,” Hagen said.

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Campbell RiverCommunityEquestrianStrathcona Regional District