Letter: Too big, too much, too close

Slow down! We live here because we chose a rural community

Too big, too much, too close

Re: Sept. 15 Citizen; City of Duncan wanting a further review of (yet another) proposed six storey rental project. Several councillors felt that development is necessary and reiterated that new construction of single family dwellings in Duncan are no longer permitted; and since we can’t spread out, we must go up.

I would like to break this down a bit. First, “the development is necessary” part. Is development the cure-all for fiscal management dilemmas? What expenses is the city left with after the developer, especially in this case, leaves town? What are the more far reaching costs and do taxes cover them? I think there are many costs in the long run and I don’t think taxes cover them.

Development at this point is inescapable so let’s look at the broader aspects of it and the many ways it can come about. The costs of buildings are borne by the developer with minimal infrastructure upgrades. The effects of growth on transportation, roads and parking, water and its delivery, sewage and storm drainage, recycling and garbage, governance and security, recreation, etc.; these and more are carried by the city.

Then there are the needs of the people who come to fill the buildings. We are no longer talking about locals looking for homes. The Cowichan Valley is a destination for many from all across Canada. They will be looking for doctors and health care professionals, businesses and trades, all those services that already have months-long wait lists. It’s unlikely that the owners and managers of these services will choose to live in birdcage apartments. In addition, schools, recreation, parks, trails, rivers and lakes and activities will all need additional planning and expansion.

As to the many ways that development can come about; does it need to happen all at once to the maximum potential? How many times do neighbourhoods have to say no to six storeys before council hears it? There are a lot of possibilities between single family homes and six storey apartment buildings. There are some newer beautiful townhomes, some older aesthetically pleasing three and four storey apartments with courtyards and garden plots and playgrounds. If the city truly views planning through the lens of climate emergency, as it claims, sustainable neighbourhoods are the basis for security.

And no, not all immediately. I advocate for staged development so infrastructure, social and recreational needs can grow in tandem with housing, be in place as population increases at a rate beyond which the valley has seen before. We can then welcome them into our community rather than be resentful of the overcrowding.

Garry Bruce is the only councillor who seems to understand and agree with what neighbourhoods are saying: “too big, too much, and too close”. Slow down! We live here because we chose a rural community. People are coming here because rural appeals to them. Don’t ruin it for us all by building up without staying grounded in our rural characteristics. Destroy the fabric of our neighbourhoods and you destroy our community.

M. Lescher