A controversial development proposal next to the Englishman River goes to Parksville council on Monday for a rezoning vote.
This is a crucial decision for the city and for District Developments of Vancouver after the plan was widely criticized at a Feb. 13 public hearing.
Opponents fear negative environmental impacts would arise from development on land that is home to wildlife, has popular walking trails, and is adjacent to the river. Potential damage to the river and its ecosystem was a key theme at the hearing.
If the plan passes third reading on Monday the proposal at 1465 Greig Rd. south of the city would go forward at a later date for fourth and final reading on the needed rezoning.
The district has said the project would be built over several years on the proposed comprehensive development zone.
The total number of residential units, excluding secondary suites, would not be allowed to exceed 800. Up to 100 assisted living facility units would be permitted.
A mix of housing types suited for various income levels is proposed.
By the time the public hearing started, the city had received 2,999 submissions about the proposal. Of those, 2,986 were opposed.
Although the developer has said the project would withstand a 500-year flood level, many area residents remain unconvinced.
The river sustains five species of salmon and two species of trout.
The site is on a floodplain and includes an area which now holds water, said one speaker, adding if that was lost it could result in high water levels in the river and damage to fish habitat.
Barbara Lowden said she had collected more than 3,000 signatures opposed to the project, with 1,463 from Parksville residents.
Critics said the proposal is the wrong location for a high-density development. It would lead to more traffic — and pollution — on the roads and in the air. New projects could be built closer to the city centre than out of town.
They are concerned that rain runoff into the river would contain contaminants detrimental to the river and its ecosystem.
Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation Coun. Christopher Bob said there was a lack of consultation and it is critical to preserve the river for future generations.
One speaker in favour said the area needs more housing and encouraged council to try to find a way to address concerns, allowing new homes to be built.
The developer has agreed to conditions, such as a covenant on its floodplain report to extend its boundaries and said the flood storage volume on the site would not be affected as a result of the project.
When it comes to traffic, vehicles on the road would only increase by about 10 per cent at full build out, the company said in a letter to the city.
District Developments’ commitments include retaining 53 acres of the site for green space, contributing $1,600 per housing unit for a total of $1.28 million, and securing trails and public access.
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