Are the 3L development, Stotan Falls and 185 acres of riverfront our golden opportunity?
The answer is no.
The true golden opportunity that the citizens of the Comox Valley received was the creation of the Comox Valley Regional District.
We can thank the late Stan Hagen for making it happen. He loved the Comox Valley. He realized the Valley’s citizens should be the ones deciding on how the Valley’s future should develop and grow.
Our new regional district came with conditions and a clear message. We were mandated and provided provincial funds to create a “growth strategy.” The citizens were asked to work with planning experts and local politicians to help design and shape the future growth of the Valley.
Over 50 public meetings were held on the RGS concepts and hundreds of people attended two public hearings on the proposed RGS bylaw. This Regional Growth Strategy was approved and adopted unanimously by all local governments in the Comox Valley as the path forward towards a sustainable future.
The message was clear, urban development was to stop at the Puntledge River and rural agricultural and resource developments would be supported north of this dividing line. The citizens wanted a sustainable plan that would control and manage sprawl.
All of the planning experts today will confirm that sprawl is a very expensive proposition. The RGS concept is based on planning our own community and abandons the concept of speculation development being the driving force that shapes and creates where we live, work and play.
This particular development was considered prior to the RGS adoption and the public gave their input. All local governments in the Valley opted for an expansion of land for Cumberland, Courtenay and Comox that reflects the servicing capabilities of our infrastructure, road networks and transit service.
All local governments in the valley opted to support rural, agricultural and resource development north of the Puntledge River. The RGS recommends 90 per cent of future growth for the municipalities and 10 per cent for the regional district’s rural areas.
The first annual report of the RGS shows we are achieving these goals. Is this proposal for residential sprawl worth changing that direction?
We need to support developers who have invested in our communities in accordance with the vision in the RGS and OCPs.
Individuals and companies have taken huge risks in our communities to propose and build projects that reflect the vision in our RGS. Considering proposals like this one sends a mixed message to these leaders.
Where should they invest their time and money if we don’t follow our plans?
The 3L development, Stotan Falls and 185 acres of riverfront is nothing but a Trojan Horse that will make a paper tiger out the RGS.
Let’s give our Regional Growth Strategy a chance to mature before we start amending it. This “jewel of a park” has been there for thousands of years and it will be there well into the future.
We cannot abandon all the time, money, expertise and citizen involvement that went into the creation of our Regional Growth Strategy for a development which is pure speculation.
We have our Regional Growth Strategy. We must protect it and the principles it stands for.
Editor’s note: Jim Gillis is the Comox Valley Regional District director for Area B.