Letter: With regards to the Potlatch proposal

Tuesday, June 28 2016

I’d like to add my voice to that of many of my neighbours who do not want the area beyond Church St. owned by Potlatch developed into yet another suburb. Anybody who has seen what the farmland of the Lower Mainland has become will understand my disgust with the whole “density swap” routine. It is legalese for “my client gets to ride roughshod over current zoning and the municipality gets a bike path and a parking lot”. I live in the middle of an ALR area. I don’t want to live in the suburbs, next to a suburb or anywhere near a suburb. The fact is that we do not need further density and I am unwilling to trade the rural characteristic of this island for another walking route. I used to ride my horse all through what is now a GALTT sanctioned trail system (before there was any such thing as GALTT), and in fact I used to ride through the very property under review when it was zoned for timber. And it should be kept for timber.

Or a “no strings attached” park. Good citizen behaviour. No rezoning. Ever.

I made the bulk of my wages building “luxury” homes. I’ve got nothing against rich people, as long as they don’t try to game the system. I have worked around developers all my adult life. The business model is this: Buy a large piece of property as cheaply as possible (ones with caveats and zoning issues that keep the price down) and then push, and coerce and do whatever you have to do to get it rezoned into profitable chunks.  

Some rare developers care about the existing community, but most don’t. It is usually entirely profit motivated behaviour and most developers I have been around have a “damn the torpedoes” will and a way about them. It is a power and control thing. Pushing a developers agenda is not for soft or faint of heart. And they will always have their way if you don’t stop them in their tracks. Never mind the carrot and the stick routine. There are no advantages for me at least and perhaps the vast majority of the island in the development of this parcel. It is a wetland water source, a fish and wildlife habitat, a beauty to behold and it’s where my drinking water comes from. And a lot of my neighbours. I’d really rather not be drinking somebody else’s effluvia, by the way. I don’t think the issue of egress to Phase 4 is my business, so much, unless it impacts the wetlands and therefore my drinking water source. But it entirely impacts the residents of Phase 4. I personally can’t see Norwich Hill being a good candidate for increased traffic and if you think Encom is doing a terrible job maintaining our roads in general, but in particular Taylor Bay Road, I shudder to see what kind of botchery will be ahead for Phase 4 roads.

In short, we don’t have the infrastructure for higher density, the water, the sewers, the ferry capacity or the will for higher density on that property. And for those who think Gabriola jobs will come with this proposed development, I think you might be surprised by how few local tradesmen have historically been involved in these developments.

Including the new Fire Hall. Speaking of which, can we have a moratorium on our salaried officials stumping for the developers until we as a community have made a decision? There needs to be a new level of transparency regarding who’s got a hand in who’s pocket around here.

p.s. If you are speaking to this issue on behalf of a “board”, let’s have the board members named as a matter of record. I am a big fan of the way volunteers are maintaining our trails, but unfortunately I think there is a considerable amount of overreach going on.

Sincerely, Erik Johnson