A commercial area on Kingsview Road and Donnay Drive will not only offer Maple Bay residents convenient access to goods and services but could also reduce traffic along Maple Bay Road.
Those are the benefits that got North Cowichan councillors excited Wednesday during a public meeting about the proposed development.
“The whole idea of that commercial area is that Maple Bay people would not have to go all the way into Duncan for everything they need, say from a food store or other services that are provided at the development,” explained Mayor Jon Lefebure at the meeting. “We have traffic issues growing on Maple Bay Road, if we can reduce the car trips on Maple Bay Road that would be a large plus for our transportation systems.”
The subject property covers 1.42 hectares (2.5 acres) with the main entrance at the southeast corner of the intersection of Kingsview Road and Donnay Drive in The Properties neighbourhood. It’s just across the street from the Maple Bay Elementary School property, adjacent to the playing fields.
The property is zoned neighbourhood commercial according to North Cowichan’s planner.
“The organizing theme of the development is to create a commercial ‘village’ atmosphere. As a village the development consists of eight separate unique buildings placed around the perimeter of the site. The buildings have public facades racing the streets and internally into the parking area,” according to Michael Levin, a director at Praxis architects.
“Certain aspects of the building architecture relate to the surrounding context and some are adapted from local heritage structures. We have drawn a number of architectural elements on the Old Stone Butter Church in Duncan and the Duncan Railway Station.”
After looking over the latest round of plans, council was pleased with the way things are proceeding.
“I suspect that people will adopt it very quickly and will be delighted not to have to drive as much,” Lefebure said of the pedestrian and cyclist-friendly proposal.
He noted the developers are keen to move forward. “It’s a very interesting project and we’ll see what people think of it.”
Two neighbours spoke up during Wednesday’s meeting. Both expressed some logistical concerns but in general were thrilled with the plan and hoped it would be everything promised.
“We think we can make a great contribution to the neighbourhood,” Levin told council and the neighbours.
Councillor Tom Walker said the project has been a long time coming for Maple Bay.
“It appears to be very well planned, very well designed. It’s not just a couple boxes on this piece of property. It’s far more than a corner convenience store. It’s a well designed commercial area that’s going to be an asset to North Cowichan and an asset to the neighbourhood,” Walker said.
Coun. Joyce Behnsen enjoyed that the development would help create a sense of community and convenience, “but it also…lowers the need for traffic in and out into town. That whole area hasn’t ever had the convenience for shopping and different services.”
Coun. Al Siebring said as someone who lived in Maple Bay for the better part of 10 years, he personally understands the annoyance of having to drive into town “every time you want a can of Coke.”
“This is huge on so many levels,” Siebring said. “In terms of community access, in terms of reducing emissions and vehicle traffic and the rest of it. I’m so, so pleased to see this happen.”
Lefebure added his compliments on the attention to detail in the plans presented to North Cowichan council.
“If you can follow through on what you’ve shown us, we’re going to be seeing a development we can point to when other developers come to our jurisdiction. We’ll say that’s the kind of quality we want and appreciate.”