Land donation will create largest park in Nanaimo area

Lantzville will soon receive one of the largest donations of parkland the province has seen in the past decade.

LoneTree Properties, a subsidiary of Calgary’s Storm Mountain Development Corp., which is developing the Foothills planned community north of Nanaimo, will donate 730 acres to Lantzville this year.

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The park will be the largest in the Nanaimo area. By comparison, Beacon Hill Park is about 185 acres, and Vancouver’s Stanley Park is about 1,000 acres.

The parkland for Lantzville was a requirement of a development agreement signed in 2007, Mayor Colin Haime said.

“It required them to dedicate 730 acres on the first subdivision of that land,” he said.

“They did file a subdivision application a year and a bit ago, so they’re just carrying on with what they’re required to do.”

A second donation of 170 acres for parkland will be triggered once the creation of 121 lots is completed, he said.

Aside from a few logging roads, the property is undeveloped, and Haime expects it to remain largely as is. A couple of viewpoints and limited trails may be built.

“It was meant at the time [of the development agreement] basically as a legacy park — to protect the land from any further development. Whether it gets developed into park with trails and washrooms and that sort of thing is yet to be seen,” Haime said.

“Certainly in terms of resources, Lantzville being a small community [it’s] relatively difficult, number one, to fund any major improvements to it; but number two to manage any major improvements. It would be something that I can foresee us doing in partnership with the regional district.”

The new park features bluffs, gullies, forests, rocks, cliffs, high country marshes, viewpoints, creeks, and a diversity of vegetation.

Lone Tree said the park land donation represents the largest land donation in British Columbia since 2009, when Skaha Bluff was donated to the province.

“It’s a terrific amenity,” said Allard Ockeloen, Lone Tree CEO. “As a developer you can develop anything, but some properties just shouldn’t be developed and this is one of those properties.”

“It’s one of those properties that the community has embraced for decades, for sure, definitely for generations of public use. Even though it’s private land, the public has made it its own,” Ockeloen said, noting that everyone from climbers to equestrians, to hikers and off-roaders use the property.

The Foothills development is to be built over the next 10 to 15 years on 1,838 acre. Plans call for about 730 homes and a mixed-use village.

When finished, it’s expected to be home to about 2,000 residents — more than half the district’s current population of 3,800.

Homes in the first phase are located on the north area of the site, closest to Lantzville.

About 70 home sites have been sold.

Residential lot prices range from $250,000 to more than $600,000, with the majority in the high $300,000 to low $400,000 range.

They are 0.25 of an acre to two acres and have ocean views.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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