Youbou Lands is proving itself more costly than developers had expected.
“The cost of the cleanup has almost tripled,” development head Thomas Kreilein told a Youbou audience, Sunday, February 27.
The cleanup, which concluded in November of last year, has cost the developers approximately $5.5 million, including $50,000 for the Ministry of Environment to look at their large stacks of files for approval. The approval process should take between five and six months, Kreilein said.
It was initially supposed to take five weeks to complete the cleanup. Instead, it took four months.
And there’s always a possibility that they’re not done, yet.
“There’s always a chance that they will come up with something else we may have to do,” Kreilein said, of the environmental cleanup process. “Everything has taken longer than we had imagined.
The Youbou Lands development plans, which were approved by the CVRD in June of last year, remain the same.
The 20-year plan will see 1,950 new units constructed, including 800 single family homes and 1,150 multi-family homes, including condominiums and town houses.
“The only change that I can see is some of the condos may become more sustainable for senior care facilities,” Kreilein said.
Pending environmental approval, Kreilein expects the first phase of development to begin this summer, with the infrastructure, including road work, water, and sewer installed, at a cost of between $10 and $12 million dollars.
“But these numbers always change,” Kreilein noted.
As many local residents as possible will be hired, the developer said.
The developers being in charge of all of the building work over the course of their 20-year plan will also help ensure that as many locals as possible will be hired.
There aren’t many other construction opportunities wherein people are ensured 20 years of employment, Kreilein said.
If all goes to plan, over the course of these 20 years, Kreilein expects the population of Youbou to go up between 5,000 and 6,000 people.
With other developments in the area having slowed down significantly in sales in recent days, Kreilein admitted that he is feeling a bit down on his project, but that there are no plans on slowing down work.
To keep on plan, Kreilein anticipates a need to build and sell 100 units per year. In the current state of things that does not appear possible, but things should pick up, he said.
6.82 per cent tax increase this year
During the meeting, CVRD Youbou/Meade Creek area director Klaus Kuhn announced a likely 6.82 per cent tax increase this year.
Although there a few more budget meetings are to take place before the numbers are finalized, Kuhn said, “this is most likely going to be it.”
The $17.01 increase per $100,000 of a property’s worth, from $249.42 in 2010 to this year’s $266.43, is largely due to a re-evaluation of forestry land, Kuhn said.
Whereas 32 per cent of the area’s taxes used to come from forestry land, it’s now only 24 per cent.
“The forestry land was devalued by the assessment authorities,” he said.
One contested .60 cent increase is for the Kinsol Trestle upgrades, which one audience member commented shouldn’t be there at all, as it’s located outside of the electoral area.
Cowichan Lake Recreation is going up to $124.04, from last year’s $116.57. This is largely due to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena renovations, currently being completed for a March 12 grand re-opening.
Transit is going up to $14.36, from last year’s $9.77. So far, this year has seen two cement pads go up in Area I for new bus shelters, which will be erected in the near future. After a difficult year dealing with changes to transit, Kuhn said that the bus service will also improve, this year.
Grants in aid have gone up to $2.25, from last year’s $.86.
Other than that, the remaining items include small increases or decreases.
The CVRD Electoral Area I-wide Me ‘N You Social Association is struggling, Kuhn said.
“This year, we tried to organize a Robbie Burns Night, but no one came out to help,” Kuhn said, adding that, in contrast, last year’s event was quite successful.
“It’s disappointing. If you look at Honeymoon Bay, they’re doing well,” he said.
A member from the public suggested that Honeymoon Bay has less of a transient population than that of Youbou, with a larger core population of volunteers.
“I’m not going to give up on it, but it will take a bit of effort,” Kuhn said.
Annual General Meetings
Before the open house section of the meeting, the Youbou Fire Protection Service Commission and the Youbou/Meade Creek Parks Commission both held their Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
Youbou fire chief Orest Smycniuk reported 52 incidents this past year, which isn’t too bad.
“We survived a dry summer,” he said.
Most calls out were for medical aid, with chimney fires and other smaller items making up the remaining items listed.
During the Youbou/Meade Creek Parks Commission AGM, chair Marcia Stewart outlined a busy year, introducing a new park and trail system in the Woodland Shores development on the Bald Mountain Peninsula.
“Sadly, we’ve had vandalism done to the field by a vehicle,” she said.
An estimate on the cost of a vehicle driving donuts throughout the field has not yet been completed.
One comment from a member of the public was that the playground equipment and field should not have been installed until people have moved into the development. As such, it’s sitting there, isolated, prone to vandals.
One factor was making the area look appealing to people interested in purchasing lots, Kuhn said.
“If it’s all set up and the equipment is there, it will look better,” he said.
They were also expecting development to begin a lot sooner than it has. Only now are some houses beginning to enter the construction phase.
Another concern, Stewart said, was being stuck with the bill for the park if they didn’t construct immediately. This has been the case with past developments, she said.
Kuhn said that a policy to help with this problem will be drafted in the future, to help make things clearer future developments.
Due to poor weather, the February 27 public meeting had a poor turnout. As such, Kuhn said that he’ll be planning another such public open house meeting for some time in April.
This upcoming meeting will be advertised in the Gazette once the details have been determined.