The Nanaimo-based developer proposing to create a riverfront community near Stotan Falls has initiated a petition in an effort to determine if people want the area to become a park.
So far, a young student has collected about 1,500 signatures from people recreating this summer at the popular swimming hole off Comox Logging Road.
“We have not even gone out to the larger community,” Kabel Atwall said on behalf of 3L Developments, which included a parkland dedication in an offer to sell the property to the Comox Valley Regional District. “The petition shows people want park and they understand that development is part of the scenario.”
The company hopes to develop lots for single-family and patio homes tailored for seniors. The project also includes several kilometres of trails, a parking lot and washrooms at Stotan, links to public bus routes and a commercial centre that would serve Forbidden Plateau residents.
Earlier in the year, the CVRD board voted against amending the Regional Growth Strategy bylaw, as requested by 3L.
Last year, the board rejected the company’s offer to sell the property to the CVRD, saying the proposal is not in sync with the RGS, which addresses land use in the Valley over the next 20 years. The company responded by enforcing No Trespassing signs and temporarily blocking traffic on Comox Logging Road by closing two sets of gates on Duncan Bay Main. A Save Stotan Falls Facebook page appeared shortly thereafter.
The Save Stotan organization claims petitioners are tricking people into ‘saving the falls.’
“There’s no trick, it’s just a simple question that’s being asked,” Atwall said.
Following are some comments that appear on the page:
•Their proposal goes against the Official Community Plan. I support that plan that keeps high density development away from this area and keeps the rural flavour.
•Hundreds of houses around those falls and the trails along the river would ruin the magic of the place. Don’t sign!
•This would be an absolute travesty to develop such a beautiful area.
•The landowner has the right to develop the land as they see fit, within the guidelines enforced by the state.
•Up, not out, should be any wise town’s development plan.
•Any property beside the river should be preserved!
ndowner for allowing us continued use of his land for the time being is needed. Especially if you consider the legal implications that may occur from an injured person at the falls on his land. Courtenay is growing. It’s inevitable. It’s time for older generations to realize this and move on. The Comox Valley isn’t 20,000 people anymore. Population along the Inland Highway is the natural direction of progression. Embrace change and work with it instead of whining because of it.
Concern about urban sprawl was a common theme throughout the public RGS process. But Atwall notes Stotan Falls is closer to downtown Courtenay than Sage Hills, Union Bay or even Crown Isle.
“They (CVRD board) promote those areas and then they say ours is unsustainable because we’re out of town. They sort of pick and choose what they want to see and what they don’t want to see.”
He likens situation to someone wanting to swim in a neighbour’s pool. Atwall notes the company is allowing the public to use Stotan Falls as a park, even though it’s private property.
“It’s our property, really. I hate to say it. I think we’ve been more than accommodating this past year in letting it be used,” he said.
“It all comes down to what people want. What are they willing to give up to have that area as park? That’s probably the most used park area in the Comox Valley, and one of the most heavily recreated. How do you get it into public hands? You have to give us something. The regional district just seems to say no to everything, thinking that if they do nothing, things will remain the same. But there’s one thing that’s never the same, and that’s a static situation.”
He notes the upcoming municipal election.
“If people want to see a park, there’s one way to get it and that’s to vote,” Atwall said.
The CVRD and 3L have both sought legal advice about the issue.
Atwall said the district will soon receive legal documents from 3L lawyers.
“They’re not even following process, according to our lawyers,” Atwall said.