Stotan Falls developers seeking ‘meaningful dialogue’

3L Developments says it would gladly open the gate that's blocking traffic on Duncan Bay Main road.

A DEVELOPMENT PROPOSED for the confluence of the Puntledge and Brown rivers would look like this — except the regional district says it's out of synch with the Regional Growth Strategy.

3L Developments says it would gladly open the gate that’s blocking traffic on Duncan Bay Main if the company could engage the regional district in “meaningful dialogue” about its project proposal near Stotan Falls.

3L plans to build a leading edge, green community that will set a new standard in terms of sustainable development.

“We wanted to do something that was different in terms of being environmentally responsible,” 3L spokesman Kabel Atwall said, noting the plan incorporates social, economic and green considerations. “We didn’t think the area deserved a cookie cutter treatment. I think a normal subdivision wouldn’t do justice to the site.”

Over the course of a 10- to 15-year buildout, the plan is to develop at least 600 lots for single-family homes and patio homes tailored for seniors. The project includes nine kilometres of trails, a parking lot and washrooms, links to public bus routes and a commercial centre that would serve Forbidden Plateau residents. It would create 2,500 man years of employment, translating into 150 to 180 jobs and another 80 to 95 indirect jobs, Atwall said.

The company purchased the property in 2006 but only recently started enforcing No Trespassing signs because of what it attributed to potential liability issues.

The closure has raised the ire of those who enjoy the popular swimming hole and hiking area. A Save Stotan Falls Facebook page has generated upwards of 4,000 likes in less than three weeks.

Another group has organized a protest at Stotan Falls beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Atwall said 3L is willing to meet with the CVRD and members of the public to move toward reopening the falls and trails as public parkland. If the CVRD owned the property, Atwall said liability would no longer be an issue for 3L.

“We’re not happy about closing the roads and trails, but we need to listen to the insurance company,” he said, noting the gates will be opened for the Royal Lepage Snow to Surf event later in the month.

“We would love to open it up tomorrow if there was meaningful dialogue,” Atwall stated. “We’re willing to compromise. I think we can be complementary.”

The idea is to develop an area straddling Duncan Bay Main northwest of Stotan Falls, and to dedicate 185 to 200 acres of land to the CVRD, he said. The land would include the falls, trails and Bull Island. The development would not extend to the Puntledge River.

Treated water could be reused for irrigation, and for tasks such as washing cars and laundry. Atwall said the community would not rely on the CVRD for water or sewer, while the district in turn could collect taxes.

“Collectively, it’s a nice, clean package they would get,” Atwall said.

The CVRD board would need to consider whether municipalities and electoral areas are interested in acquiring the property for park purposes. If there was interest, a referendum would be needed.

However, the CVRD has said the project is not in synch with the Regional Growth Strategy. Recently, the district board declined a conditional offer to purchase the land, citing public opposition to urban residential development near Stotan Falls and a lack of funds. The company had proposed another alternative in-camera.

To proceed with the development, 3L needs to apply to subdivide, or for a zoning or Official Community Plan amendment.

Atwall said an application prepared during the RGS process would need to be revamped.

A Frequently Asked Questions bulletin regarding 3L Developments and Stotan Falls has been posted at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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