A large and controversial housing development project slated for the side of Mount Tzouhalem is edging forward.
Councillors in the Municipality of North Cowichan gave the third reading to the Kingsview Developments proposal, which would see more than 1,300 housing units constructed, after a mandatory public meeting on Nov. 23.
The public hearing, which left standing room only, went on for more than four hours.
The majority of delegations spoke against it, raising concerns about the environmental impacts of more runoff from the development entering nearby Quamichan Lake, and increased traffic and density issues, among others.
But, after the lengthy hearing, only councillors Kate Marsh and Rob Douglas voted not to give the third reading.
Strandlund Investments Ltd. is proposing to build the development where the defunct Cliffs Over Maple Bay project was supposed to be constructed.
A staff report has indicated that, based on the anticipated market for real estate in the neighbourhood, it’s likely that the area will be developed over the next 30 to 40 years if the project gets the green light from council to move forward.
Douglas said he has a number of concerns with the proposed development.
He said North Cowichan’s award winning climate-action plan calls for a 33 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases in the region by 2025, and he wonders how that can be accomplished by allowing such a project to proceed.
“I don’t think these targets are realistic if we’re going to allow 1,200 to 1,400 housing units on the side of Mount Tzouhalem, which is not within walking or biking distance to the area’s main commercial corridor,” Douglas said.
“Then there’s the runoff from all those housing units that would bring even more nutrients into Quamichan Lake, which we are hoping to rehabilitate,” he said.
“I know the developers would be required to develop storm-water retention systems, but I think the runoff into the lake will still only increase with all those new houses.”
Mayor Jon Lefebure, who voted for the project to proceed, acknowledged that the majority of people at the public hearing “had concerns” with the project.
But he said he felt, although they aren’t perfect, that the municipality and the developers have proper strategies in place to deal with most of the issues raised.
“A new roundabout is proposed to be built at the intersection of Kingsview and Maple Bay roads, and other road work to deal with the concerns around increased traffic is planned,” Lefebure said.
Lefebure said the developer has also offered a contribution of $1,000 for each housing unit constructed to help pay for initiatives to improve water quality in Quamichan Lake.
“The developer also has a plan to deal with the invasive plants on site, which have become a problem,” he said.
“It’s a very comprehensive plan and, while it’s not perfect, the issues will continue to be worked on.”
The fourth and final reading of the bylaw that would allow the project to proceed is expected to be read in the coming weeks once a number of required covenants are completed.