Last week’s column expressed support for neither the J.H. Boyd property owners nor the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers’ Association. It simply took issue with the Ratepayers’ assertion during a recent Advisory Planning Commission meeting that the Ratepayers represent the “vast majority of the public.” Now, it’s time to eat my words.
The Gazette’s Question of the Week results are in, with 28 people voting “yes,” and five voting “no,” to the question, “Do you agree with the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers’ Association on the J.H. Boyd property issue?”
That’s a pretty vast majority, thanks in part to a 11-vote boost by residents of the Evergreen Place.
It should be noted, also, what the motivations of all parties involved in the J.H. Boyd property have been.
The Ratepayers, the Advisory Planning Commission, and the town’s elected officials have nothing but what’s best for the community in mind. The developer has both the community and personal financial gain in mind. School District 79, which sold the property to a private land-owner, also had financial gain in mind; something of a slap in the face to Lake Cowichan residents, who owned the property before the local school district amalgamated with Duncan’s. It had been donated to the town over 40 years previous.
It should be noted, also, that the Ratepayers are not trying to protect the land for use as an educational facility alone; one of the developer’s main criticisms, in that there is unlikely to be a school built at that location. P-1 zoning also includes the following permitted uses: Church, school; civic use, including transportation station; park, playground, sports field; post office; municipal campground, public recreation use; public utility, public storage and works yard; affordable seniors, rental, and special needs housing.
The final of these listed uses will likely be changed to read “Affordable seniors care facility, or special needs facility,” as per a proposed amendment to the town’s Official Community Plan at the suggestion of the Ratepayers’ Association, to keep the zone public in its scope.
All things said and done, good and bad, perhaps it would be best for the town to look into purchasing the property from the developers. A lot has changed since the 2006 referendum, during which time residents opted to not purchase the land from School District 79.