Need for development guidelines in Cowichan Valley

The reckless levelling of our forested lands does not need to be.

Need for development guidelines in Cowichan Valley

I am writing in response to recent attempts in North Cowichan to place a moratorium on development and feel I wish to add my comments in the aftermath of the recent controversy.

I have worked in the Cowichan Valley since 2013 and have extensive experience in the City of Vancouver as an engineer in design and construction. I recently moved from Maple Bay area into the town of Youbou.

In assessing the need for a moratorium on development the first question should be: “What is the real problem?” The fundamental issue may not be with development itself but with how development is taking place. We all recognize the pressures created by expansion of population and as a result of the need for affordability of housing in areas such as Vancouver and Victoria. There are inevitably moves away from expensive centres into areas like ours — simply due to lower prices. However, of late we have been seeing clear-cutting of large sections of land to the detriment of the character of the neighbourhoods. This is occurring in Maple Bay and is also evident in Youbou. Large sections of land are being sold off and this inevitably changes the character of the landscape.

We have been lucky to have some of the most beautiful country drives. One of these is certainly the drive to Maple Bay via Maple Bay Road or via Herd Road to Maple Bay.

Pressure from development in Maple Bay is generally not a huge problem as residential single-family housing can be accommodated with relatively moderate impact on the area. Increased clear-cutting of lands for multi-family developments is however, a problem. It is no coincidence that a major issue with the development of the golf course clear cutting the site in advance of design and construction without approvals fully in place, led to even more intensive development of the denuded site. Subsequent developments have exacerbated deforestation and may be contributing to environmental risks as well as compromising the very rural character that attracts people to Maple Bay.

It is clear that intensive residential developments are not desirable in these areas and lead to unanticipated traffic snarls and congestion, inconsistent with the available infrastructure and the rural character they are ostensibly trying to improve.

The essential character of our rural areas is the pastoral setting, views and trees. The very air is better along these routes. The drives themselves are a tourist attraction and are what bring visitors to the Cowichan Valley. Development can be sensitive in order to preserve character. We do not have to level all the trees on these sites. Why cannot we preserve at least some trees along these routes to maintain the essential aspects of nature? Why, in fact, do we really need high density where such development is incongruous and detrimental to what we hold dear? Clear-cutting seems to occur in order to ensure that there is sufficient drive-by interest in selling such homes; however, most that are buying want the setting and are willing to pay for it. Good developments demand good site planning as well as aesthetic building design and good quality construction.

Recent clear-cutting along Highway 1 north of the Highway 18 cut-off are disgraceful and send an awful message to our visitors. Also, who indeed approved the storage of compacted cars overlooking the Malahat south of Mill Bay? Someone is not reviewing the drawings properly, otherwise it would be obvious that this is a hazard and obtrusive. Blatant violations of the planning principles set out by local government require enforcement action.

In Youbou and Lake Cowichan we are seeing the wholesale sell-off of lands along the Highway 18 corridor. Recent developments, although small in scale, have been poorly designed with inadequate setbacks and character that is simply incompatible with the visual appeal that brings visitors here.

To rectify this we need to do several things.

Re-assess the kind of development that is appropriate in the context of our country drives.

Bring in protective measures to maximise the preservation of trees and screen highways from residential neighbourhoods.

Preserve pastoral settings as vital elements of our economic future.

Think about what the health of these commnuities needs. The future of Maple Bay and the Highway 18 corridor does not need to sacrifice its country feel. It needs trees. The future is tourism and this detrimental clear-cutting is not consistent with the area’s future tourism potential.

Invest in preservation of our villages to enhance the area.

The ‘village’ feel of many of these areas relies on sensitive development rather than uncontrolled expansion.

Administer proposals carefully to ensure that we selectively eliminate inappropriate proposals that are spill-over from over densified areas such as Langford.

Be prepared to enforce regulations/bylaws and take remedial action where required.

We have the benefit of some of the finest country on Vancouver Island. The reckless levelling of our forested lands does not need to be. We can control unfettered development and ensure that we preserve our communities through good design and administration of the processes. That approach benefits us all.

Let’s get this right before it’s too late.

John T. Ivison

Youbou

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No one hurt in Maple Bay Road fire

Fire under investigation

North Cowichan to police popular trails to ensure physical distancing

“You can expect delays accessing Mount Tzouhalem, or even to be turned away.”

Duncan’s Pat Kay copes with Olympic roller-coaster

‘Confusing time’ as Canada pulls out due to COVID-19, followed by IOC postponement

Editorial: It’s never too early to think about water conservation

The weir at Cowichan Lake resumed operations for 2020 on March 18.

Alistair MacGregor addresses federal response to COVID-19

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP spoke to constituents via Facebook on Wednesday

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Ferry breaks down at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay, several sailings cancelled

B.C. Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay held in dock in Nanaimo due to main engine issue

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

Most Read