3L Developments is back, and again asking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy
The 3L Development company is once again seeking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy.
3L Developments, an ownership group led by founder Dave Dutcyvich, has tried for 13 years to develop nearly 1,000 homes on its 500-plus acres situated between Browns River to the north and the Puntledge River to the south. The Inland Island Highway borders the property to the west.
The CVRD has denied 3L’s past requests for development permits because the site doesn’t fit into the CVRD’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), which only recognizes three areas as settlement nodes for growth outside of municipal boundaries, the Saratoga area, Mt. Washington and Union Bay.
The CVRD’s denials have triggered a series of confrontations with the CVRD staff and at least one director and triggered multiple legal actions against the regional district. Its proposals have incited community protests and, in response, the company has shut off access to the popular Stotan Falls recreational area.
As a result, the regional district last year realigned its policies with all other British Columbia regional districts to consider RGS amendments only when they are proposed by a government body.
But although private landowners can no longer propose Comox Valley RGS amendments, government bodies, such as the Electoral Services Committee (EASC), can do so on behalf of a private landowner.
This week, 3L representative Rob Buchan asked the Electoral Services Committee to support an amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and refer it to the full CVRD board that would clear the way for a revised version of their development plan, called Riverwood.
The Electoral Services Committee comprises directors for electoral areas A, B and C.
A long discussion at the EASC on June 15 culminated in a motion by Area B Director Arzeena Hamir, and seconded by Area A Director Daniel Arbour, to deny the application.
But this motion failed (only Hamir voted to deny the application) after Area C Director Edwin Grieve implored his colleagues to consider a long-term vision and move the application forward by seeking input from other agencies and First Nations.
Arbour then moved and Hamir seconded a successful motion to ask appropriate agencies, including fire departments, to provide feedback on the new 3L application.
This motion passed unanimously.
WHAT THEY SAID
Speaking for Dutcyvich, new 3L representative Buchan said the discussion over Riverwood has gone on over a decade and that his mission is to find a solution that ensures “public access and preserves the land.”
“The reality of where the owner (Dutcyvich) is at,” Buchan said, “is that he will liquidate his economic interest whatever way he can, which would make it more difficult to acquire the greenways in the future.”
Buchan said the assemblage of five separate land titles under one ownership is currently an advantage for the regional district to deal with this issue given the public’s interest in acquiring the land for parks, greenways and access to Stotan Falls.
“If this (3L’s current application for an RGS amendment) doesn’t go through, that will be more difficult to achieve,” he said. “It won’t be nearly as easy in the future.”
Director Hamir said the substance of the application didn’t “tick the boxes” for her to fully consider how the new Riverwood plan would meet the requirements of the Regional Growth Strategy.
Director Arbour initially said he would vote for Hamir’s motion to deny the application. But later, in deference to Area C Director Edwin Grieve, where Riverwood is located, changed his mind.
“But from what I saw today, we must first do a good job of meeting the goals of the Regional Growth Strategy before opening these settlement nodes.”
And Arbour took exception to a suggestion that his or other directors’ vote might be based on ownership or a possible sale.
“My vote would not be influenced by who owns a property because at the end of the day we’re talking about the Regional Growth Strategy,” he said. “That argument rings shallow for me.”
Director Grieve, who chairs the EASC, said Dutcyvich has invested a lot of time on the Riverwood project and suggested that he was at the point of wanting it resolved.
Grieve asked Arbour and Hamir to refer the application to other agencies and keep the process moving forward.
“If the proponents (3L) have the patience to move at the speed of government, which is moving even slower now during this pandemic, then we should put it out for feedback,” he said.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
The three electoral area directors eventually chose to consider the 3L application, rather than outright denying it. They will refer it to a list of agencies that includes the K’omoks First Nation and two other First Nations, provincial agencies, local governments, the school district and two public advisory groups.
The Electoral Services Committee will then consider the feedback from those entities, comment on the new information and decide how to proceed.
The committee could ultimately refer the application to the full CVRD board, which would, in turn, consider whether to initiate a Regional Growth Strategy amendment process.
Or, the committee could deny the amendment application and close the file.
SUMMARY OF 3L’S APPLICATION
3L Developments has revised its original plan to develop their Riverwood lands. They now want to develop 780 housing units (335 single detached units each with provision for a secondary suite, 54 townhouse units and 56 multi-family units), 1,400 square meters of neighbourhood commercial floor area, 97 hectares of open space or parkland and a 10-acre parcel for K’omoks First Nation.
The new proposal triggers the need for an amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) because the properties are regulated by two Official Community Plans and designated by both as Rural Area and Rural Settlement Area/Settlement Expansion, respectively.
3L Developments Inc. is proposing to repeal the existing OCP designation on a portion of the lands and to amend the OCP designation on the remaining lands to a Settlement Node and Rural Settlement Area designation. This requires an RGS amendment.
CVRD staff recommended the EASC refer the applications to external agencies and First Nations for comment and detailed feedback and create an opportunity to acquire any additional information.
BACKGROUND TO 3L’S PROPOSAL
3L Developments first proposed a new, self-contained community that they named Riverwood on 500-plus acres between the Browns and Puntledge rivers in 2007.
The CVRD rejected that first application at a time when the district was developing the Regional Growth Strategy. In subsequent legal action started by 3L, the CVRD was later told by the BC Supreme Court to give the proposal fuller consideration.
After reconsidering the 3L application in 2018 by what’s called the ‘standard process’ — which takes longer and gathers more feedback from a wider array of affected parties than the ‘expedited process’ — the CVRD board voted in 2018 to again deny 3L’s application. 3L then started another legal action to have that decision overturned by the courts, but it was unsuccessful.
At that time, the CVRD was the only regional district in the province to allow developers or other private parties to apply for RGS amendments. In all other regional districts, only another government entity could apply to amend the RGS.
In 2018, the CVRD amended its Regional Growth Strategy to match other districts in the amendment proposal process.
The revised RGS now states that amendments can be proposed by a member municipality, the Electoral Services Committee or the full CVRD board, and they can do so on behalf of an external agency or a landowner.
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Jan 4, 2020 They’re back. This time with a petition for annexation into Courtenay.
I wonder who “the Save Stotan Falls Committee started this petition ” is?
Here is the text. Lovely spin.
” Please read and sign this petition and join us in convincing Courtenay City Council to annex the 3L Development Lands into the City of Courtenay, dramatically reducing the size of the development and saving the 300 acres around Stotan Falls for generations to come! This land will be donated to the community and is worth $14 million- $16 million dollars!
This key addition to the Puntledge River Greenway offers recreation access for swimming, hiking, mountain biking, walking, fishing, salmon enhancement, white water kayaking, palaeontology, and bird watching just to name a few.
This would make Stotan Falls the fourth largest park in the Comox Valley. This aligns with a major goal of the 20 year Regional Growth Strategy for the Comox Valley…”to protect, steward and enhance the health of the natural environment and ecological connections”. – that we ALL share. ”
This is the next wave obviously. How about
Save Stotan Falls. Keep it Rural.
Keep 1200 people away from it. Keep 1200 vehicles away from it. Keep 1200 dogs away from it. Keep 1200 cats away from it.
Most of what I want to say has been said already. This developer appears to have no regard for the environment, for other people and thinks that he can win by bullying. Don’t give in to him, CVRD.
Very well said
Once again, they’re putting the cart before the horse. Before it goes to Area C for re-zoning and development, the CVRD OCP must be amended. That will require a public hearing. For those who think the ‘park’ is a good compromise, please consider the number of people who will have access to the ‘park’ on their doorstep. Also consider the fact that every one of those new homes could potentially include an Airbnb. This proposal would increase traffic in that area (especially along Piercy Rd.) and open the entire area to increased development if the OCP is changed. I also believe that in the long term, that area would eventually become a part of Courtenay in order to provide the necessary infrastructure. 3L has not been a good neighbour and there is no reason to believe they are proposing this development in good faith. Threats, bribes and court cases should be the only proof you need. There is no reason to trust them. The only answer is to go to the public hearing and say NO to an OCP amendment.
I agree that the Comox Valley and every area, needs affordable housing. If this is a big part of the proposal, It should be considered. This Developer has not been community friendly. So what. Many wealthy care only about money. We have here, 20,000 low income people- many who work in the service, home care and retail sector and need a place to live. Where will that be? $1500 a month rent will mean tent cities will soon be in Lewis Park and Marina Park. It’s coming.
THIS IS NOT AFFORDABLE HOUSING,GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE
Actually it is very affordable housing for people moving from the Mainland.
Somehow our elected directors-all good people, need to met the challenge of approving projects that benefit developers and those who want to live in our community, while balancing the needs of those who can’t afford to live and work here, at minimum wage.
It would seem to me that CVRD directors, Municipal councils could find a way to make some properties ,available at lower cost to non-profits to build housing, in new developments.
Why not.Our locally elected representatives live here and get it.
I love it. Wrap them up in so much red tape that they get strangled in their own hubris. Someone bought the wrong property for development, so sad but that is the brutal face of capitalism. Take your losses and get out of town.
Don’t go for the carrot, this guy doesn’t deserve your time in evaluating the proposal!
Very well said
I believe strongly that development should be governed by the RGS and NOT by the continued pressure of a developer. We either have development occurring in the identified nodes or we have a ‘free-for-all’, haphazard type of development. The issue of housing needs in the Valley is a diversionary red herring. It’s not whether development occurs, it’s where.
Kudos, by the way to George and Decafnation for excellence reportage!
I live in the area and support this 100%. We have a lack of rental housing in the Valley and this would go a long way in helping that issue. Creating a “Community” vs. just another housing development is a great idea.
Once a developer has a plan in place and it is passed there is nothing stopping them from changing the plans citing economic difficulties or any other reason. They could change the housing to condos or smaller apartments, smaller houses and thereby increasing the number of houses they can build more.
Build up around the town center. More affordable housing ie: apartments,condos and also people are within walking distance to stores and transit. Plowing down forests to build is dinosaur thinking.
That is not true without financial consequences – either by losing the bond they would place with the CVRD or through building costs. They are a business which means they have to build a product people actually want to buy. The community development model they are using is not new. Just about every city on the mainland requires developers to do the same thing – along with the fully priced residential units they have to put in some low income housing, upgrade the infrastructure, include park land and whatever else city hall deems appropriate.
How much closer to the town centre can you get? It is a 5 minute drive to the town centre or a 20 minute walk? Anyone who is from a larger centre would not think twice about it.
The cost to change from wood frame to concrete is exponential. We are not going to see condo high rises. What they are proposing is not more urban sprawl but a community that has residential space supported by commercial space.
This is 5 minutes from where we live and again, fully support it.
I agree with comments on 3L’s track record to date on being a “good neighbor”. I live nearby the proposed area, & am not at all convinced that changing the OCP to accommodate 3L’s investment recovery plan is good for the Regional District or Courtenay. I wish we could manage to correct the Private Ownership of the river bed, but if that is not possible, we should encourage 3L to keep us in mind, but no thanks to the existing proposal.
Here is their third proposal. A 125 MB – 248 page .pdf file.
We need to support our elected representatives in keeping this development off the table. 3L just keeps badgering various municipal entities hoping that eventually someone will cave. Our community has spoken loudly and clearly that we do not need or want this development. There is lots of room within the existing settlement nodes for more housing. And I can guarantee that 3L is not going to build anything that will meet the real housing needs in this community – rental at affordable prices. Please let your elected reps know that you have their back in keeping this development in the dark closet it belongs in.
I agree completely!
I sincerely doubt that we’d gain affordable housing here. Providing bargain opportunities for Vancouverites moving to lower cost areas here doesn’t seem to me to raise any better opprtunity to build actual affordable housing for low income families.
With the history of legal action when the results are not what 3L Developments Inc. wishes to see, I would not want to see involvement in any further dealings with this group!
This sounds like they are creating a town not a housing project. Why does her regional district have a growth plan? To protect our environment and prevent urban sprawl. We need natural untouched areas that are easily accessible for all. The greed of developers is unstoppable and they only have the bottom line in their intentions. Please go away and stop wasting everyone’s time.