Work continues unabated at North Shore Estates residential development on North Shore Road, with workers in the process of making their way through phase 2 of the three-stage project.
North Shore Estates is part of a plan by the Ts’uubaa-asatx First Nation to transform that waterfront area on Cowichan Lake of North Shore Road into a fully developed residential and recreational area.
Brock Dupont, COO of Tsu Holdings which is a limited partnership owned by the Ts’uubaa-asatx, said of the 29 single-family homes planned in phase 2, four have been completed and are now occupied, three are completed and up for sale, and four more lots have been pre-sold and homes are under construction on them.
He said development of the other 18 lots has yet to begin.
“We’re hoping for good housing markets in the spring,” Dupont said.
As for phase 1 of the residential development, which consists of 26 homes, Dupont said 18 are completed and occupied, four are under construction and he expects work should begin on the final four in the spring.
He said the beginning of construction of phase three of the project, which calls for the construction of another 32 homes, depends on the housing markets.
“Most home buyers are in a holding pattern right now,” Dupont said.
“The markets are nervous these days for a number of reasons, including higher interest rates.”
The Ts’uubaa-asatx have set aside approximately 30 acres of their reserve lands for the housing development.
Most of the semi-custom made homes are about 1,400 sq. ft., and have up to three bedrooms, and prices currently range from about $759,000 for smaller ranchers to approximately $1.1 million for larger houses.
Dupont pointed out that the housing project has already invested about $24 million into the local Cowichan Lake economy, mostly through jobs and purchasing materials from businesses.
“We expect that by the time we’re completely finished all three phases of North Shore estates, we’ll have invested a total of $100 million into the local economy,” he said.
Aaron Hamilton, the Ts’uubaa-asatx’s operations manager, said work is also continuing on several infrastructure projects on the First Nation’s reserve.
That includes a $1 million investment into the Ts’uubaa-asatx’s administrative building that was recently completed mainly with funding from the First Nations Health Authority.
Hamilton said the administrative building’s size has doubled to 2,400 sq. ft. and now has facilities for visiting health professionals, a new board room, a learners’ room for the community and much needed additional office space.
“I’m super proud of that, and Brock now has his own office instead of having to work from his truck,” he said with a laugh.
As well, Hamilton said the Ts’uubaa-asatx also installed solar panels, increased the amount of insulation in the administrative building and completed other projects to increase energy efficiency with funding from the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Program.
The First Nation has also built the Little Cubs Early Years Centre, that will host day-care and after-school programs, next to the administrative centre.
Hamilton said funding for that project, which cost approximately $250,000 to complete, came from a variety of sources.
Little Cubs Early Years Centre is scheduled to open on March 1, and plans are for the day care to host eight children in its first year, and to increase that number to 16 in the second year.
As well, Hamilton said workers are in the final stages of completing an elders duplex, located close to the administrative centre, which is planned to be just the first building in the First Nation’s new community core.
He said the elders duplex, which is fully accessible, will house two members of the Ts’uubaa-asatx, and more will be built as needed.
“The next plan for this project in the community is to build a subdivision for our members which will include some townhouses and single-detached homes,” he said.
“That project will be our next big push.”
The Ts’uubaa-asatx are also moving forward with two projects on land it owns on Youbou Road.
One is an outdoor storage facility close to the road intended mostly for boats and recreational vehicles and, behind that, will be an aggregate yard that will sell gravel and rock.
Dupont said work at the quarry will be contracted to Stone Pacific Contracting.
“We hope to have the quarry, which has been estimated to have a life of about 25 years, open by March 1,” he said.