Donnay Drive decision will go ahead before UCB review

A special council meeting has been scheduled to discuss the fate of a controversial development project on Donnay Drive.

A special council meeting has been scheduled in the Municipality of North Cowichan to discuss the fate of a controversial development project on Donnay Drive.

After a lengthy discussion at its regular meeting on Oct. 19, council decided to hold a meeting in council chambers on Oct. 28 at 11:30 a.m. to debate giving the project a third reading.

The Donnay Drive proposal calls for the construction of 39 housing units on a 2.65-hectare site just north of Maple Bay Elementary School.

But Coun. Kate Marsh wanted the meeting to be delayed until after a staff report on proposed changes to the Official Community Plan, which is considered by many of the Donnay Drive project’s neighbours as an integral component of the proposed development. That will be tabled in early December.

“We’re putting the cart before the horse and I’m not comfortable moving forward with discussions on this project before we know the whole outcome [of the proposed changes to the OCP],” she said.

But Coun. Al Siebring said it’s council’s responsibility to make such “tough decisions” on proposed development projects in a timely manner to be fair to all stakeholders.

Coun. Tom Walker agreed, stating that a final decision on the Donnay Drive project has to be made “sooner rather than later” to assure council’s fairness on the issue.

“The staff report [on the OCP] will just get things started on that issue, so we should have the meeting on Oct. 28 to be fair to the proponent,” Walker said.

“This has taken too many months already.”

But many residents of the mainly rural neighbourhood have raised a number of objections to the project, including their contention that the housing density proposed would be too high for the area.

The main issue for many of the project’s opponents is the ongoing and proposed modifications to the OCP that could radically change a number of areas of their mostly rural community to high-density neighbourhoods, without adequate community input.

Coun. Maeve Maguire said she doesn’t see how council can “fairly look” at the Donnay Drive proposal without considering changes to North Cowichan’s urban-containment boundary first.

“If the UCB is correct as it is, then this project should have been given a go, but if it’s determined to be incorrect, then this totally changes this development application,” she said.

Council voted to hold the meeting on Oct. 28 in a 5-2 vote.