Popular outdoor recreation area in Comox Valley barred to public

Motorists are unable to pass through Comox Logging Road for the time being because a gate is closed on the roadway.

Roads and trails in the Stotan Falls area have been blocked to the public.

Motorists are unable to pass through Comox Logging Road for the time being because a gate is closed on the roadway that provides a shortcut from town to the Inland Island Highway and Forbidden Plateau.

The gate is located near Stotan Falls where a developer wants to a create a riverfront community. The Nanaimo-based 3L Developments hopes to construct homes and develop trails at the confluence of the Puntledge and Browns rivers, but the Comox Valley Regional District says the project is not in synch with the Regional Growth Strategy.

3L owns 385 acres, a portion of which was to be dedicated as parkland or greenspace upon project completion. The plan includes 618 lots for single-family homes, nine acres for patio homes tailored for seniors, nine additional kilometres of trails, links to public bus routes and a commercial centre. 3L purchased the property from Comox Timber and Hancock Forest Management.

3L claims it offered to donate the land to the CVRD.

In January, the company offered to sell the land to the district for $9 million, with 3L “carrying a portion of the purchase price,” as stated in a letter. The offer included Stotan Falls and Bull Island. The CVRD board declined the conditional offer following an in-camera presentation last month from 3L president David Dutcyvich.

Although the offer carried the benefit of securing public access to Stotan Falls, the proposal is inconsistent with the principles and direction in the government-mandated RGS, which guides growth in the Valley over the next 20 years. The board is concerned about

impacts the development would have on surrounding resource lands and agricultural areas. In a letter to Dutcyvich, Grieve also notes public opposition to urban residential development in the area.

“The CVRD does not have the funds to purchase the proposed approximately 81 hectares,” Grieve states.

The property is designated a Rural Settlement Area. 3L could apply to subdivide under existing zoning into 20 hectare parcels. Another option is to apply for a zoning amendment to permit subdivision in accordance with RGS policies. The company could request zoning for lots as small as four hectares, in which case an Official Community Plan amendment is not required. A third option is to apply for an RGS amendment to accommodate the proposed development. The second and third options require public hearings.

3L Developments did not return calls this week.

In previous interviews, spokesman Kabel Atwall has said 3L plans to close the popular Stotan Falls and surrounding trails indefinitely due to liability issues. Trail users could sue the company in case of an accident.

“This is a terrible idea,” says one comment on the Record’s website.

“Just the thought of 600-plus homes going up in this area makes my skin crawl and gets me hot and Irish inside,” another reader states.

Another who spoke with the developer states: “Although the thought of our childhood hangout being developed makes me extremely apprehensive, I understand the necessity for change … I hope development will increase economic stability in the Valley. I guess we will have to wait and see what change brings to our little slice of paradise.”

A Save Stotan Falls Facebook page has generated nearly 1,800 likes in 24 hours.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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