Council ponders 91% park

Despite finally gaining the support of several Chemainus groups and the Penelakut Tribe for a possible speedy end to the long-running Echo Heights dispute, North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure could not get enough of his colleagues to back an idea that calls for 91 per cent of the site to become parkland.

Using the analogy of a baseball player who hit more successfully when he relaxed his grip, Lefebure asked both council and the community to loosen their hold on former ideas and embrace a plan that would see only nine per cent of the controversial piece of municipal land used for housing, and using R2 zoning to cover it.

His idea was that council could give a new park dedication bylaw first, second and third reading at that meeting, and then follow a public-approval process.

"The community has relaxed its stand; they’ve said if you can come this far, we can support you," he said.

Lefebure confessed that he, too, had held a rigid position for too long, looking for innovation and ways to maximize the return for the municipality.

"The lots created now will be top-value and will not compete with other developments," he said. "No one can say we have not examined this and it’s where all sides of the issue meet," he concluded.

Bernie Jones of the Chemainus Residents Association stood up at the meeting and urged council to support the proposal.

Creegan Drive resident Doug Freeburg said, "I see it as a reasonable balance."

The idea offers less density at a lower cost to the municipality, is more likely to happen

quickly and is also a greener solution, he added.

North Cowichan CAO Dave Devana told councillors that the municipality was giving up about $1.5 million in possible sales. However, "this proposal will still make $2 million and at significantly less risk. There is a simple road network and the services are already there."

Coun. Barb Lines said that she was happy to see this movement on the issue.

"The relationship between communities and council is important," she said.

"This is a plan that brings unity. I think it’s a powerful opportunity for some healing," Coun. Kate Marsh agreed.

However, all the goodwill evaporated when it became clear that Lefebure could not get the two-thirds majority of council needed to go to a quicker public approval process.

Coun. John Koury wanted that extra $1.5 million.

Coun. Al Siebring said that, as far as he was concerned, "Echo Heights has never been all about the money but we have to maximize the return." Coun. Jennifer Woike also voted against the 91-9 split.

Marsh asked Koury if he would reconsider his decision to oppose Lefebure’s proposal so that council could take advantage of the good will generated and reduce possible public misunderstanding but his response was "No," concluding, "I don’t care how confusing it is."

The result was that council was only able to give first reading to the 91 per cent park dedication bylaw. It must now await second and third reading and that possibly could take two more council meetings, pushing the decision date into June.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LAKE FLASHBACK: Death, destruction and a big donation

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Brentwood hosting 2A boys Island tourney

Mill Bay school aims for fourth straight provincials berth

Paper Excellence, owner of Crofton mill, hit by malware

Paper production in Crofton, and other mills, impacted by incident

UPDATE – Chemainus Secondary School fire Thursday morning being investigated as suspicious

Classes cancelled Friday due to ongoing investigation and damage

Chris Wilkinson column: Private seniors care homes must be more accountable

The lack of transparency of where the public funds are allocated is alarming

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

— Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

One dead in multi-vehicle collision involving logging truck on northern B.C. highway

DriveBC says highway expected to remain closed until 8 p.m.

Most Read