Cumberland council has given the go-ahead for Tree Island Yogurt to develop a site on 3901 Bevan Rd.
At the Sept. 30 meeting, council approved a development permit for the site, as well as a variance permit. The area is located north of the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre.
Tree Island is looking to relocate from its current site in the Royston area. The company also hopes to develop a six-site subdivision to provide further industrial land in the community.
The site falls within a development permit area because of environmental considerations. As well, the applicants from Acciano Development, doing business as Tree Island, are applying for a variance to allow onsite wastewater treatment systems – specifically for septic fields on lots small than one hectare.
One concern that arose was any effect that development at the site could have on the groundwater system that feeds Morrison Creek.
At the beginning of the meeting, Janet Gemmell, president of the Morrison Creek Streamkeepers, made a presentation to council about the ecosystem in the area and how important the groundwater is, especially the underground springs in the region.
“These springs are the main source of water for Morrison Creek,” she said. “It is a small but extremely productive tributary of the Puntledge River.”
She added that headwater streams are the “lifeblood” of rivers and streams and are fed by perennial springs. Further, she explained, the water supports many important species of fish such as salmon, trout and lamprey.
“We really feel that this groundwater is vital to that creek,” she said.
Coun. Gwyn Sproule asked about any fluctuations in the amount of water throughout the year. Gemmell responded they are in the middle of collecting this data.
As a sign of what can happen from expanded development, Gemmell showed a map of the Lower Mainland that highlighted its “lost streams.” She said the potential effect on the groundwater was their only concern for development at the Bevan Road site.
“Most of this development will need water,” she said, adding they would prefer the site to have water piped through from the Village rather than from groundwater.
Coun. Jesse Ketler agreed the Village would like this, but the situation represented a “chicken/egg” dilemma, meaning that to expand infrastructure to service businesses such as Tree Island, they would need to bring such businesses. She also described the applicants as ones with a low environmental impact.
“I think they’re a good partner for the Village,” she said. “I think long term we will want the infrastructure out there.”
Following the meeting, Acciano Development issued a statement it will soon complete the purchase of 15 acres of industrial land at the Bevan Road site from Comox Timber Limited. As part of their plan, they had Ecofish Research assess the potential environmental impacts of the site.
The applicants plan to subdivide the site, with Tree Island using one to build a 28,000-square-foot production facility, four times the size of its current production facility with 10 times the capacity.
“We needed a larger site to grow our business in the Comox Valley, and after not finding any appropriate sites in Comox and Courtenay I discovered the bulk of vacant industrial-zoned lands in the region are in Cumberland, along Bevan Road,” Scott DiGuistini, Acciano Development president, said in the statement. “Through many conversations I had during this exploration, I learned there’s pent-up demand for industrial land and buildings in the region.”