North Cowichan will write a letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure asking it to reconsider its decision not to make the Trans-Canada Highway the primary access point to a controversial 108-unit modular home park in Chemainus.
Council unanimously voted to have Mayor Rob Douglas write the letter to MoTI at its meeting on Jan. 18.
Council rejected a motion by Douglas to send the letter at its meeting on Dec. 21, but many councillors who were against it changed their votes this time around.
“It’s clear from some of the correspondence we’ve received that some of the residents there who had opposed this development now accept that it’s moving forward, and this is a bit of a compromise to allow them to retain that country-road kind of feel on Henry Road,” Douglas said.
Many residents are concerned about the increased traffic on the small and rural Henry Road that the new modular-home park, called Morgan Maples, would bring.
Douglas said MoTI approved a similar request to make the TCH the primary access point from a previous owner of the 21.5-acre property located at 9090 Trans-Canada Hwy. who had development plans for it 11 years ago, but that project didn’t move forward.
He said former Mayor Al Siebring had put in a request for MoTI to make the TCH the primary access point last year for the current project, but it was denied “for whatever reasons”.
Douglas said the fact that the request was turned down by MoTI this time probably indicates that the ministry is not going to change its mind.
“But, one thought was why don’t we take one last crack at this and see if we can make a persuasive case?” he said.
“I know there is some reluctance. The previous council did discuss this proposal at length and I want to be clear that this is not about reopening this issue. The development is moving forward, that much is clear, but this is exclusively about the access points for the development.”
Coun. Debra Toporowski, who voted against sending the letter in December, said she would support it this time after she received clarifications on the issue from Douglas.
Coun. Tek Manhas, who also previously voted against it, said the owner of the property called him and said the only issue that they have with sending the letter is that they want a response to the request within 21 days.
“If they have to wait six months, they would have to redo their plans,” he said.
“They did say they hope this is not a delaying tactic by council, but I said ‘no’.”
Coun. Bruce Findlay said, like Manhas, he will support sending the letter as long as there is a maximum of three weeks to wait for a decision from MoTI.
“In our original discussion in December, my concern was that if we open this up and we have to wait on a response from the ministry for months and months, it would delay the development and that’s why I voted against it when it was brought forward,” he said.
“There is already one access off the highway, but to make it the main one makes so much more sense for everybody involved.”
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