A request from residents of Henry Road in Chemainus for North Cowichan to intervene on an access issue to a nearby housing project that is under development didn’t even make it to the council table.
The residents want the municipality to ask the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to reconsider its decision not to make the Trans-Canada Highway the primary access point to the controversial 108-unit modular home park.
At the council meeting on Dec. 21, Mayor Rob Douglas said former Mayor Al Siebring had requested that MoTI make the Trans-Canada Highway the primary access point to the development, called Morgan Maples, and located next to the Country Maples Campground, and the developer had been supportive of the request as well.
But he said the ministry turned down the request, which is why Henry Road is now being pursued as the primary access point for getting to the development, much to the dismay of many residents who are concerned about the increased traffic on the small and rural Henry Road that the new modular-home park next door would bring.
Douglas attempted to add the residents’ request that North Cowichan ask MoTI to reconsider to council’s agenda for the meeting as a notice of motion under new business, which required unanimous support from council.
But Coun. Tek Manhas took exception to the motion and stated he would not support it.
He said council has already dealt with the issues around the development at 9090 Trans-Canada Hwy. on many occasions.
Several councillors in the previous council, including Douglas, had tried twice to prevent the development from being constructed, but were unsuccessful.
The site is zoned to allow the development, but Douglas, Coun. Christopher Justice and former Coun. Kate Marsh didn’t agree with its location in the middle of a mostly rural area, and its lack of alignment with the official community plan.
But the majority of council decided to allow the project to proceed due to the fact that the region is in a housing crisis and is in desperate need of affordable housing.
“There’s been reconsideration twice to down-zone this property, and I believe we have dealt with it enough,” Manhas said at the council meeting.
“The residents in that area had their say already twice, more than twice actually, and I think this matter is dealt with.”
Douglas clarified that the question at hand is not whether North Cowichan should prevent development on the 21.5-acre property, but where the development’s primary access point should be.
“The idea wouldn’t be to rehash or debate again whether this development should move forward,” he said.
“It’s already moving forward. It’s just a question on whether we want to ask MoTI to reconsider the decision they made in regards to the primary access point for the development.”
Without receiving the mandatory unanimous vote to add the issue to the meeting’s agenda for discussion, Douglas made a motion to suspend the rules to add the notice of motion as a late item, which only required two-thirds of council to support it.
But that motion also failed after Manhas, Coun. Bruce Findlay and Coun. Debra Toporowksi voted against it.