Echo Heights a case of listening to the people

We’re almost afraid to jinx it before the final approval goes through. But the imminent settling of the Echo Heights development controversy once and for all deserves some comment.

The fight over Echo Heights has been going on for eight years.

In a nutshell, it all began when the Municipality of North Cowichan decided to develop 40 acres of land they owned in Chemainus to bring in some cash.

This property was not pristine wilderness. It had been acquired by North Cowichan as a clear cut, but over the years nature did what nature does and a forest had grown back.

We admit, at first we thought the fight to save this piece from development was yet another NIMBY exercise by some property owners who, now that their houses were built, didn’t want to be disturbed by more building.

But just because you get used to walking your dog on a vacant lot doesn’t mean that the owner of said lot doesn’t have every right to come along and build.

However, it became clear when the Chemainus Residents Association formed that there was more to it than that.

As the years dragged on, the enthusiasm for the cause could well have waned. Time tends to erode passion in these things.

But it didn’t in this case.

We have always been able to see the point and sympathize to a degree with the desire to develop this piece of property.

There would most likely have been no outcry if building had begun when the municipality first got the land and there was little there but scrub and stumps. Development would likely have been viewed as an improvement.

The municipality is under a lot of pressure from residents to keep taxes down. This requires bringing in revenue. Development can be part of the equation. But the intervening years that turned the clear cut into a forest cannot be ignored, nor can the numbers in opposition.

After all, the opposition is an expression of the will of the community of Chemainus. In the end, the government must listen to what its constituents are telling them – and continue to tell them for eight years. So 91-9 it is. We just hope council has learned and next time it won’t take eight years for such a divide to be bridged.

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