A 10-year phased development agreement has received approval from North Cowichan for the controversial Kingsview Development project.
Council voted for the phased-development agreement after a crowded public hearing on April 18, with only Coun. Rob Douglas opposed.
Transtide Kingsview Development Ltd. is planning to construct up to 1,300 housing units on the side of Mount Tzouhalem, where the defunct Cliffs Over Maple Bay project was supposed to be constructed, in several phases that are expected to take decades to complete.
The agreement also stipulates that the developer can apply to the province and the municipality to extend the agreement to 20 years at a later date.
Council gave the green light for the project to proceed last summer, but council’s approval was subject to registration of a covenant against the lands that requires the adoption of the phased-development agreement.
A PDA is a legal mechanism under the Local Government Act used to provide certainty for a local government and a developer on the phasing and timing of a development.
Numerous concerns have been raised over the project since it was first proposed, including the fear that increased development in the area would lead to more damage to Quamichan Lake.
A number of people at the public hearing expressed concerns over congested roadways, demands on water resources and environmental concerns, among other things, as the project proceeds.
Staff replied that the developer commissioned a study with the assistance of North Cowichan that demonstrated appropriate water supplies would be available with some upgrades, plans for the local road system to handle increased volumes are underway, and a water outflow plan for the project should be tabled within weeks.
Douglas said he can see a lot of pros and cons with the project and he is aware of the amount of work the developer and staff have done to balance the priorities of the community and the project.
“The project offers significant amenities, including parks and open spaces, a contribution to affordable housing and plans to help clean up Quamichan Lake,” he said.
“But I’m concerned that a 10-year agreement could handcuff future councils. Priorities may change and I’m not sure that the next two or three councils should be committed to the current project.”
Coun. Tom Walker said council can’t expect to have an agreement “of this magnitude” ending at the term of every council.
“The developers and North Cowichan have to have some certainty,” he said.
“People in North Cowichan know that this is the decision, right or wrong, that will be in place for a number of years and it offers guarantees all around.”
Coun. Al Siebring said the “scar” on the mountain from past efforts at development is a sore spot for many in the community.
“I don’t see a better way forward than this,” he said.
Coun. Joyce Behnsen said any future council will understand this council’s reasons for entering into the 10-year agreement and that the plans were developed very carefully.
Coun. Kate Marsh said that she wished there were never any attempts to develop the mountain.
“If council knew then what we know now, I don’t think there would have ever been any development allowed there,” she said.
“But I will support this project and I’m grateful for how graciously the developer has worked through the process.”