Concerns about development sprawl have been raised over plans by Cowichan Lake’s Laketown Ranch to add a large residential area and an industrial zone on more than 40 hectares of land it owns adjacent to the festival site.
At a recent electoral areas service committee meeting at the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Alison Nicholson, CVRD director for Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora, said she’s concerned about sprawl in the area, which is outside of a growth-containment boundary, and the fact that a number of planners in the CVRD have said they don’t think the proposal is a good idea by today’s standards.
“I feel a lot of discomfort about that and I’d really like to hear from the community, so I’m looking forward to the public hearing on this plan,” she said.
“Some planners have taken a different position of this application, and that raises my antenna.”
Laketown Ranch has applied to the CVRD for rezoning to build 182 manufactured homes, 50 cabins intended for year-round living, three single-family dwellings to be used as caretaker residences and 122 year-round RV camping sites, as well as an industrial area.
The electoral area services committee has already given the comprehensive project the green light to proceed through the planning stages, and a formal public hearing is expected to be held by the CVRD sometime soon, after staff members who wrote the report on the project recommended it go to the next planning stage.
Ann Kjerulf, the CVRD’s general manager of land-use services, said professional planners have different opinions all the time and it can lead to better outcomes when the district can explore various options, so disagreements among planners is fairly common.
But she said she would suggest that senior planner Bev Suderman, who wrote the report, is a professional planner who has spent a considerable amount of time on the application over the last few months and knows it intimately.
“She is bringing her professional expertise to bear and, of course, other planners’ opinions matter, but they haven’t spent the time that Bev Sudermen has on it,” Kjerulf said.
“At the end of the day, the report was signed off by the manager and myself, as the general manager, supporting the recommendations that were brought forward to you following what tended to be often lengthy discussions.”
Klaus Kuhn, the CVRD’s director for Youbou/Meade Creek where the project is planned, said that there have been two meeting with the district’s advisory planning commission on the project and two public meetings, so there has already been plenty of opportunities for the public to become familiar with the project.
He said the idea making its way through the community that there hasn’t been enough public consultations is not correct.
“How far should we bend over and try to get more and more information out there?” Kuhn asked.
“It is out there and the people in Youbou do know what’s going on, so I don’t like this indication that there hasn’t been enough effort made to inform the public. That’s utter nonsense.”