On Oct. 28, council took another step toward approving an urban-density development on Donnay Drive. Much more is riding on this decision than is immediately apparent.
Approving the Donnay proposal could lead to the development of the entire block of surrounding rural heritage land, including such icons as the Quamichan Inn property, and Penfold and Low Fell Farms.
Approving Donnay means council will also be taking the irreversible step of extending the sewer. Sewer will allow proliferation of the urban density developments being currently encouraged by municipal staff.
This larger outcome has not been considered or debated at council and would be certainly opposed by most citizens.
Beyond its heritage value, this land is also important and sensitive ecologically. It is Garry oak ecosystem, one of the rarest ecosystems in Canada, containing sensitive wetlands and endangered species habitat such as that of the Western bluebird. The land also has importance as moderator of water flow and is important to lake health, which deteriorates further with every new development.
The land surrounding Donnay also has agricultural capacity and is currently used for growing vegetables and fruit and raising chickens, eggs, turkeys and sheep. In this era of concern over future food security, it should be a basic principle that such land is protected.
The municipality has plenty of land for future growth: almost 1,400 houses are slated for the cleared lands up the hill which the municipality’s own estimates say will be enough for many decades.
It is time to decide: are we going allow our community to fall to development piece by piece without a community vision? Or are we going to thoughtfully plan our community with vision guided by the principles of the OCP and refined by the shared values and desires of local citizens?