A development plan for the site of the old Chemainus Elementary School that will connect Lang, Severne and Elliott streets has been given the green light.
In a narrow 4-3 vote at a council meeting on Aug. 17, the Municipality of North Cowichan voted for a plan that will also see up to 12 single-family lots constructed on the 3.8-acre property, and park space that will be primarily allocated to an off-leash dog park and a food forest.
The property currently contains the closed school, a newly constructed skate park, with the remainder of the site comprised of fields.
The municipality took ownership of the property in 2013 and has been exploring development options since then.
Staff gave council two other options to choose from to develop the property; with one calling for no new road connections and the other proposing new road connections for Severne and Elliott streets only.
The plan for the housing lots and park space was the same in all three options.
Coun. Kate Marsh said she didn’t agree with the plan to connect Lang Street, which is currently a dead end, to the other streets.
“It already has a connection and I’m not so car-centric,” she said.
“It would help also keep the costs of the project down. I’d also like to see 13 lots developed instead of 12 so that we can help deal the affordable housing issue.”
Coun. Al Siebring said the option in which there would be no new road connections was the most popular in a public hearing that was held on the issue in May.
“I can already hear the discussion we will have if we choose to connect the streets,” he said.
“People will be asking why we came to them for their opinion and then just ignored them.”
Mayor Jon Lefebure said the decision should not be based on the number of opinions that were given at the public meeting.
“We’re here to make decisions on behalf of all the people in North Cowichan, so we shouldn’t get too caught up in these numbers,” he said. It’s dangerous for garbage trucks on Lang Street because they have to back up. About 10 years ago, a garbage truck backed over a lady which ended in a fatality. There’s good reasons for staff to recommend connecting these streets.”