Residential development in South Courtenay passes hurdle

The first new subdivision proposed for the South Courtenay Local Area Plan area between Courtenay and Royston inched closer to reality last week.

Buckstone Investments Ltd. is proposing a 300-unit residential development called The Ridge on 73 acres of land bound by Fraser Road, Buckstone Road and Comox Logging Road in South Courtenay.

The first new subdivision proposed for the South Courtenay Local Area Plan area between Courtenay and Royston inched closer to reality last week.

Buckstone Investments Ltd. is proposing a 300-unit residential development called The Ridge on 73 acres of land bound by Fraser Road, Buckstone Road and Comox Logging Road in South Courtenay.

Council gave the bylaw that would create the Comprehensive Development Twenty-One Zone to allow single residential units, duplexes, carriage houses, secondary suites and accessory buildings on lots on the property third reading last Tuesday following a public hearing.

This land was annexed into the City of Courtenay in 2007 and is part of the South Courtenay Local Area Plan (SCLAP), which was adopted by council in 2009.

Buckstone Investments Ltd. bought the land in January 2008, and The Ridge, which includes mainly single-family units but also two multi-family units, is the first development application within the SCLAP.

During the public hearing, Bruce Clapham spoke to council on behalf of Buckstone Investments.

“We have designed the community around the South Courtenay Local Area Plan and embracing sustainability,” he said. “We believe The Ridge will be the genesis of development in the South Courtenay area. We will be pioneers of bringing sewer and water and a lot of infrastructure to that area.”

Since March, Buckstone’s consultants, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. and HB Lanarc Consultants Ltd., have been working with city staff to develop details of a plan for servicing, and they’ve come up with a phased development agreement, explained Clapham.

“It’s our intention to deliver much-needed building lots into the market early next year,” he said.

Anne Bayles, who lives on Fraser Road, raised concerns about the additional traffic, noting that the Comox Logging Road is in “pretty bad shape.” She also worried about streetlights, hoping they would be shielded down, not up.

Pam Munroe of Lambert Drive is a cyclist, walker and bus user, and she was concerned about taking these pockets of development in isolation.

“The city needs an overall transportation plan that includes pedestrians and cyclists first,” she said.

Nearby residents also raised concerns about runoff from the development, greenspace and losing their view and lowering their property value.

Clarice Coty, who publishes Building Links, a North Island construction report, spoke in favour of the development, as she noted there is a “critical” shortage of residential lots in the Comox Valley.

“If you approve the lots, this will add more inventory into the Comox Valley for individual homeowners to purchase lots,” she said. “If there is a shortage, the price is going to continue to go up.

“I think this would be a really good project that has a little bit of everything in it to give people the opportunity to build a home here.”

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