ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
Maeve Maguire wants to see a local area plan developed for the Berkey’s Corner area.
The Municipality of North Cowichan councillor was one of three councillors (of seven) who unsuccessfully voted against the controversial proposal for a neighbourhood commercial centre in that area earlier this month.
At a recent council meeting, Maguire gave notice she intends to introduce a motion at the next meeting on April 6, requesting that staff be asked to develop a local area plan.
Maguire said she “didn’t like the process” the commercial development went through to get municipal approval to proceed.
She said if a local area plan had been in place for Berkey’s Corner before this project went before council, the process might have gone more smoothly.
Maguire said she knows the Official Community Plan calls for commercial development in that area, but believes there wasn’t enough conversation with the community about the future of the area when the OCP was being developed, which was before she was on council.
“There’s no one group in that area advocating for the needs of the residents, so I hope that by beginning the process of developing a local area plan, people will begin to get together and confer on common issues,” she said.
“That way, the next time a proposal like this comes before council, the community can work together with council as a group, rather than the one-on-one approach that was taken this time.”
Hall Pacific, a Vancouver-based development company, intends to build a development adjacent to Berkey’s Corner that will be anchored by a number of national chain stores, including a grocery and drug store, as well as a number of smaller, more local tenants.
The company plans to begin construction in July, and to have it completed by December, 2017, after getting a green light from the municipality to proceed after a lengthy public hearing.
But the residents of the surrounding neighbourhood have expressed many concerns with the development since it was first proposed.
The concerns include adding more retail stores in an area where many think it’s not needed, the impacts of the commercial development on the mostly residential area and an increase in car traffic.
But a slim majority of council members decided to support it anyway.