Owners of properties on Nantree Road aren’t going down without a fight, vowing to keep pressure on decision makers until a suitable solution is found to the zoning issues on their lots.
In mid June, the Cowichan Valley Regional District shot down a group of 15 landowners’ attempts to legalize the common practice of setting up their RVs and campsites on their residential properties to enjoy a summer alongside Lake Cowichan.
It’s been going on for half a century — and at far more properties than the ones included in the effort to legalize — but it is technically not permitted and has resulted in some neighbours crying foul.
But if the landowners can’t use their properties in the way they have been doing historically, they simply can’t use them at all, explained Nantree Road property owner Lance Olmsted.
Many of the lots flood every winter and as such are unsuitable for building more permanent structures without spending a lot of money and/or jumping through even more hoops with authorities.
“The current zoning means I cannot use my property as I have for the last 30 years. I am not legally able to reside on the property, I cannot sell the property, the CVRD will not allow me to build on the property, will not allow me to fill the property above the 200-year flood-plain and Health will not allow me to build septic services unless I do,” he said.
He’s not the only one who faces those types of challenges.
Both Olmsted and property owner Norman Marcy have notified the CVRD they will “vigorously defend” any attempted bylaw enforcement. They’ve encouraged their neighbours and those in similar situations to do the same.
“This will be a preemptive step and will also put the CVRD on notice that we are anxious to resolve this matter,” wrote Marcy to his neighbours.
The issue affects many landowners, in the Nantree Road area and elsewhere around the lake and likely, figure residents and directors alike, around Shawnigan Lake as well.
Previous staff reports recommended moving ahead with rezoning bylaws but the board did not agree.
Directors Klaus Kuhn, Ian Morrison, Mary Marcotte and alternate director Blaise Salmon voted in opposition to the first of the two bylaws — a Youbou/Meade Creek Official Community Plan amendment — while directors Kuhn, Morrison, Marcotte, alternate Salmon and interim director Sierra Acton voted in opposition to the second of the pair, an Official Zoning Amendment.
Morrison said it was one of the most difficult rezoning decisions he has made during his time on the board of directors.
“I attended the public meetings on this issue and caught the mood of the community and the sense that I came away with is that we’re just not quite there in finding a solution that would satisfy both sides of this issue,” he said.
“Both sides have put a lot of energy into this and I guess the million-dollar question is what is an acceptable solution.”