General · 24th January 2011
The proposal to subdivide Lot 208, south of April Point, has now made its way through a committee of the Regional Board with most astounding changes from what was originally on the table. The proposal was, and still is in straight conflict with many provisions of the Official Community Plan (OCP), the most obvious one being the simple prohibition of converting lands designated "Silviculture" to dense housing. This was much debated 4 years ago, when the OCP was being developed by the community during many meetings. The reason for the prohibition was to maintain a clear break in urban sprawl north of Quathiaski Cove by maintaining the "Silviculture" designation on the Raven Lands, along West Road, and on Lot 208 along the April Point Road. None of the other "Silviculture" lands were affected by this prohibition, because conversion to housing is not an option now or in the foreseeable future for them (they are mostly Crown Lands in woodlot licenses and in reserves, or private lands attached to woodlot licenses).
The Board now wants to lift this prohibition of conversion to dense housing development for both the Raven Lands and Lot 208, thereby allowing urban sprawl to cover both areas, and that is being done only 3 years after the much-discussed OCP was finally adopted! The means by which the change is to be implemented is ingeniously devious. The prohibition of conversion from silviculture to housing is left in place but, by using complicated exemptions that any Quadra residents not familiar with the legalities of forest management would likely not understand, Lot 208 and the Raven Lands are now exempted. (Have a look at the Staff Report given to the Electoral Areas Services Committee of the Regional Board at their December meeting, the report is on the Board's web site). In other words, the prohibition of conversion to dense housing is left in place, but only where it is meaningless!
The Regional Board's planning staff and our Director have been working with the developers since early summer 2010, when the original proposal for Lot 208 was brought to the Board, in order to "improve" the development. It is interesting to see what they have achieved in addition to their main "achievement" of opening both the Raven Lands and Lot 208 to subdivision into small (1 to 2.5ha) lots:
The urgent need for affordable housing is promoted in the OCP and was pointed out to the developers at one of the initial information meetings, yet there is still not a single affordable space in this development. It is clearly aimed at a well-heeled, mostly non-resident clientele. What makes this particularly galling is that some 10 years ago, when the developers acquired Lot 208 in a land trade, the developers were given $700 000 of taxpayers money to compensate them for the fact that that the land they were getting had a restrictive Silviculture designation on it. Now this restriction is to be lifted for free, yet our reps did not manage to obtain a single affordable lot in trade.
The 46 lots of the original application are now increased to 51 and the trailer-park-cum motel has gone from 12 to 20 sites or cabins with almost all the houses, cabins and campsites lined up along the waterfront. The relevant section of the OCP states: "proposals for high density forms of housing shall not be supported on waterfront locations or in the foreshore viewscape "?
Under the "Community Values and Objectives" section of the OCP the creation of new settlement areas is discouraged. Elsewhere the Plan states that clustering is to be encouraged as an alternative to large-scale subdivisions, and so it goes on, conflict after conflict with the OCP and not a word about it in the official Regional Board Documents dealing with the Lot 208 development proposal.