Potlatch moving to community feedback stage

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, March 14 2017

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee is moving into a community information meeting followed by a public hearing for the Potlatch Density Transfer proposal Bylaws 289 and 290.

The application is to have 17 densities transferred from properties between the 707 Community Park and the Coats Marsh Regional Park to properties between Church Street and Spruce Road, also bordered by Taylor Bay Road.

The end result would be 25 private properties on the receiver parcels, with average lot size just under five acres (six properties would be over five acres)

Trustee Melanie Mamoser said she supports the current recommendations of staff, and is prepared to move into the Community Information Meeting.

Trustee Heather O’Sullivan said she has heard from the people critical of the hydrogeological study presented at the Feb. 9 LTC meeting that the concerns voiced are important. Concerns that the data used in the report was old, and that wells neighbouring the proposed subdivision have been having trouble in recent years compared to previous, has led critics of the study to say it is inaccurate.

O’Sullivan said there is a key distinction to make about what the study is looking at.

“We know we have drier summers than we used to have. Our precipitation patterns have changed.

“But the study was looking at the whole water table and potential impact of adding more wells to that water table. The table is recharging in the winter - there is seasonal variation that is separate from the potential impacts of the well.

“The study was not to establish whether existing wells had trouble. It was to establish whether additional wells would have a significant impact on existing wells.

“I do think the conclusions, despite the questioning received...are clearly supported by the analysis of the long-term groundwater analysis. Trying to balance all that information is tricky - I feel confident that we have enough information that we can decide what the merits are of the input.”

She also noted that through the Water Sustainability Act, and the MOTI requirements for proving water, there are additional protections in place.

“If water can’t be proved...that results in a decrease in the number of lots.”

Neighbours object to route of shared driveway

Paul Metcalfe and Marie Brannstrom own property between Ferry Hill and one of the LRR-zoned properties included in the Potlatch subdivision plans. They spoke as a delegation to the LTC on Thursday, being concerned with the route being proposed for the shared driveway that will connect fourteen of the proposed lots (located north of Burnside and Lockinvar) to Taylor Bay Road.

According to the couple, due to topography and the lack of trees, the “driveway” will pass within metres of their property line.

Brannstrom said, “The impact of the traffic, not just on the people on those lots - but also the people who visit those lots, that will have significant impact on our lot.” 

Metcalfe said he has proposed alternate routes for the driveway, including using a portion of the existing road through the property, but that has not been taken up by the applicants.

Brian Henning, one of the applicants, said the road location is conceptual.

“I recognize they don’t want cars going by the property. I went there and looked at it again. There is a likelihood - I don’t want to promise - we can move it 50 to 60 metres away from the property boundary; that’s a heavily forested section of trees there now. When we get to that stage, I’ll look at what we can do to create options.

“That’s a subdivision issue for us, it is hard to make it an absolute commitment at this point.”

Brannstrom said one of her concerns is the LRR property is not being included in the assessment of the application - only those lots which will be receiving densities from the transfer are being included in the process. She would rather see the LRR included in a holistic manner, so all impacts of the application are part of the Trustee’s consideration.

Public Access to Peacock Pond and Mallett Creek up in air

Trustee Melanie Mamoser recognized in the current version of the application, Peacock Pond and Mallet Creek will be part of the common (and private) strata property, not public park. She asked if there are ways to secure public access to the pond.

Applicant Dr. Bob Rooks said there are currently discussions on how to deal with the liability of public access. “The plan was for the RDN [Regional District of Nanaimo] to have it, and their insurance cover the pond. If the owners have that responsibility, they are responsible if someone walks in and drowns, that has to be worked out. I don’t think we can guarantee public access till that’s worked out.”

Rooks and Henning both said that in terms of the ecological health of the watershed, and having people taking care of it, the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust as well as Gabriola Streamkeepers would still be able to go in to the area and do their work.

Henning said, “It will come up through the subdivision application - the pond, the dam. I have no idea what’s going to come out of that. There’s no answer to the public access question.”

Trustees passed a motion that GaLTT and the applicants evaluate options to allow ongoing monitoring and potential rehabilitation of Mallett Creek as conditions in the covenant.