Billy Goat Island

Billy Goat Island

Island’s fate remains up in the air

Billy Goat Island owner Michael Dix was dealt another blow, late last month, when the Cowichan Valley Regional District's Electoral Area Services Committee again denied him a single family dwelling application for the island.

  • May. 2, 2011 4:00 p.m.

Billy Goat Island owner Michael Dix was dealt another blow, late last month, when the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Electoral Area Services Committee again denied him a single family dwelling application for the island.

During his presentation to the board, Dix outlined to the committee how he has complied with all of their requests, in his attempts to retire in style.

“I want to retire with some sense of living in the wilderness,” he said, of his plans for the Island.

The island in question is located between the Bald Mountain Peninsula and the community of Youbou.

“You’re dealing with someone with character, as opposed to an insensitive developer,” he said.

The CVRD last denied Dix a single-family home request during an Electoral Area Services Committee meeting last month, when he came forth with a 3,200 square foot building.

Deeming the building too large, the board members requested that Dix come forth with a building that has a “substantially smaller footprint,” according to Youbou/Meade Creek area director Klaus Kuhn.

During last week’s presentation, Dix presented a 2,400 square foot three-bedroom single family dwelling, which he referred to as a cooperative compromise.

In the reports prepared thus far, including one by well-known local biologist Ted Burns, there have been no negative impacts cited for the property.

In his report, Burns states, “The building site is in the (island’s) interior and well removed from the riparian values. No fish habitat disturbances will result from building at the chosen locations.”

His lengthy report goes on to clarify under what conditions Burns feels the building should be constructed (“limited to dry months”), in addition to various other environmental concerns.

“It is zoned for the building I’ve applied for,” Dix told the committee members, adding that he’s been working on getting the building approved for 15 months, now.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare to get a simple house in… 15 months, I think, is unreasonable to be building a house.”

In addition to proposing a much smaller home, Dix has planned to have it moved closer to the southern side of the island – though still near the middle due to riparian regulations – in order to help save the sensitive fish habitat on the north shore.

This should also help in reducing visibility from Youbou, as there have been several letters sent to the CVRD by Youbou residents who don’t want to see a house on “their” island, Dix said.

As for reducing the building’s size even further, he said, “Any more compromise in square footage I feel would be unreasonable from the EAC (Electoral Area Services Committee).”

The island will employ solar energy for heating water and electricity.

It also includes a septic site, which would require a zero setback from the 164 metre mark.

After his presentation, the conversation opened up for committee members’ discussion.

“We have never done an Island before,” Ladysmith board member Mel Dorey said, apologizing for the long wait.

“We wanted to walk carefully and not make any mistakes.”

“This application presents a conundrum for me,” Kuhn said. “It’s almost entirely in the riparian area… The residents are very much against this proposal.”

As such, Kuhn said that he had to vote against Dix’s proposal.

Voting in favour of the proposal was Dorey.

“My first choice is to have it as park land, but my second choice is to have it as the application has presented,” he said, adding that Dix has a right to utilize his property.

Voting alongside Dorey in favour of the new proposal were Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls area director Ian Morrison and North Oyster/Diamond director Mary Marcotte.

But, it wasn’t enough to tip the scales in his favour.

The item will be brought up again for a formal vote during their Wednesday, May 11, board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

When Dix asked what changes he must make to his proposal before bringing it back to the CVRD, the committee members responded by stating that they did not have any suggestions.