Affordable housing project in the wrong place

So-called ‘surplus land’ should be used for community outdoor recreation, not just 100-plus tenants.

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Affordable housing project in the wrong place

North Cowichan plans to permit a massive housing project [at] 3191 Sherman Rd. behind and beside busy Glen Harper Curling Club (hosts provincial events) in the parking lot used regularly by Duncan curling and soccer association.

The Sikh Temple on Sherman Road shares parking back and forth for events.

North Cowichan municipality held a public information meeting at Mt. Prevost School Jan. 25, 2017; a good turnout! The Curling Club location did not have public support! Parking is a major problem in the neighbourhood with driveways blocked along Gilana Place and down Sherman Road. North Cowichan held a public hearing Feb. 21, 2017. No local support for the location by residents, curling club manager. People from Chemainus were supportive as the two projects seem to be tied together. Willow Street housing in Chemainus on an empty lot.

Following the public hearing Feb. 21, 2017, ignoring public concerns and resistance, council rezoned the property from commercial recreation C4 to a mixed use comprehensive development zone (CD15) to allow for affordable housing to be developed on this property. Report stated, “The proposed housing development will make every effort to respect the important, existing recreational facility on this property”. People agreed affordable housing is needed, but bad location for many reasons, was the consensus. Leaving minimal parking spaces for curling members and none for guests.

Municipal-owned gravel pit up from Berkey’s Corner was recommended as a good location for affordable housing with full public support.

North Cowichan council as of April 2018 endorsed a revised project concept plan: increase from 64 apartment units including CWAV (Cowichan Women Against Violence) 12 units plus office, 98 parking spaces, to revised 95 units, 44 townhouses, 51 apartment units plus 102 parkingg spaces! Ninety-five units in a parking lot, three levels and five storeys.

Project increase of 50 per cent without another public hearing! No notification to the public!

The original concept plan included 28 townhouses and 36 apartment units, 12 of which were committed to CWAV for transitional housing for women escaping violent situations.

Parking and traffic along Sherman Road, Somenos Road, Gilana Place, Berkey’s Corner area is difficult. New townhomes, condos and single family houses have been built in the immediate area in past two years increasing traffic and parking along with new a mall.

The gravel pit would have been perfect only without it being for sale a Victoria developer purchased it to build housing. This project could still fit there!

Recreation is important — all ages benefit, young ones to seniors — good health, socially, community support, family time, achievement, overall well being. Sports is critical in the Cowichan Valley. To squeeze these facilities out will have serious, lasting consequences.

The curling club hosts events such as wedding receptions, social gatherings, celebrations with parties to 1 a.m. beside the five story building planned for east side.

The curling club and land is North Cowichan publicly owned property and council plans to lease the property to Community Land Trust BC $10 for 99 years! Insane.

So-called ‘surplus land’ as it was referred to should be used for community outdoor recreation that can also be used for much needed parking, i.e. basketball hoops, volleyball, tennis for thousands to enjoy not just 100-plus tenants.

Will taxes be paid to North Cowichan? Doubtful.

As a local developer said to me following the Jan. 25, 2017 meeting at Mount Prevost School, “I could build affordable housing if the muni gave me the land for free!”

Bad plan for many reasons – including lack of transparency by mayor and council and no benefit to North Cowichan taxpayers. The curling club sold to North Cowichan as they had trouble paying the taxes, now muni turns around and gives the land away likely with no taxes!

Joyce Behnsen

North Cowichan

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