A proposed development for Donnay Drive has come up against some community opposition. (submitted)

A proposed development for Donnay Drive has come up against some community opposition. (submitted)

Donnay Drive proposal to get third public hearing

Controversial project has raised density concerns in rural neighbourhood

Yet another public hearing will be held within a month on the controversial proposal for a development project on Donnay Drive.

It will be the third public hearing held on the proposal, which looks to build 39 residential units on a 2.65-hectare site just north of Maple Bay Elementary School.

The date and time of the third public hearing has yet to be announced.

The hearing will come on the heels of a packed community information meeting that was held last month in Maple Bay to seek public input on planning issues in the Donnay Drive and surrounding areas.

Increased housing densities that could radically change the mostly rural community are the main issues for many of the project’s opponents.

The close 4-3 vote on having another public hearing indicated that council is still split on how to move forward with the proposal.

Coun. Kate Marsh said she feels it’s “premature” to have a public hearing on the proposal at this time.

She said a review of the urban-containment boundary, which is adjacent to the properties, is still ongoing and she would prefer council wait for its completion before moving forward with the project.

“It sometimes takes developments many years before they are finally approved,” Marsh said.

“Echo Heights [in Chemainus] took a long time before it was allowed to proceed. I can’t support going to a public hearing at this time.”

Coun. Tom Walker said the application process has already gone on too long and he will support having the public hearing.

“The applicants are entitled to a public hearing so they can attend and hear the public’s concerns,” he said.

Coun. Maeve Maguire said that after two public hearings, a public meeting and two detailed staff reports written on the proposal, she doesn’t know what else there is to hear.

“I’m sure there’s a compromise here somewhere, but I have not read it yet,” she said.

Coun. Al Siebring said council had already agreed to accept and process development applications within the current framework of the Official Community Plan while it is being reviewed.

The review of the UCB is part of that process.

“Our process says we now move forward with a public hearing,” Siebring said.

Coun. Rob Douglas said he would like to see the development move forward, but only if some of the feedback that was gathered at the public meeting is incorporated into its design.

But Scott Mack, North Cowichan’s director of development services, said any notion of having the developer decrease the project’s density any further is not a good idea.

“They have already agreed to decrease density once, and for us to ask for further compromise on that could cause a worse situation,” he said.