Stotan Falls petition called “trojan horse,” 3L serves notice of logging Jan. 21
It’s a brand new year but the controversy over 3L Developments battle to build a 780-house subdivision in the Puntledge Triangle carries on.
An unknown person or group of people calling themselves the Save Stotan Falls Committee have started a petition to persuade Courtenay City Council to annex the 3L Development property.
At the same time, 3L Developments has sent letters to property owners adjacent to its 500 acres between the Puntledge and Browns rivers notifying them that the company will start logging on Jan. 21.
“Please be advised that the owner of the lands adjacent to your back yards (3L Developments) is currently attempting to sell its lands to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD). The purpose of this proposed transaction is to enable the CVRD to establish parkland, trails and public access to the lands and Puntledge River. However, should the CVRD fail to come to an agreement with 3L, we will be commencing with clearing and timber harvesting,” the letter states.
3L President David Dutcyvich signed the letter. He says it will take about one week to complete the land clearing.
The regional district began the process of establishing a regional park service in December that is necessary to fund and maintain large regional parks such as the Puntledge Triangle property or the Bevan Trails recreation area. But it’s unlikely that service will be functional in the next two weeks and able to meet Dutcyvich’s logging deadline.
However, not everyone considers some immediate land clearing of the property a justification for not following due process.
Area A Director Daniel Arbour told Decafnation today that “the property has already been extensively logged, and the owner is within his rights in that regard. Most landowners see themselves as stewards of their lands, but some don’t.”
Grant Gordon, a nearby resident, told Decafnation that the 3L property has already been logged several times. Gordon believes the bigger issue at stake is 3L’s assault on the Regional Growth Strategy and the community’s will to keep rural areas “rural.”
Gordon calls the Save Stotan Falls Committee petition a trojan horse.
“Because it isn’t about Saving Stotan Falls. It’s about moving real estate along the river and changing the Regional Growth Strategy, making room for more single-family housing to the detriment of more fiscally responsible infilling of existing municipal areas,” Gordon told Decafnation today.
“There is no way that more people living closer to those falls is going to be good for Stotan Falls through annexation,” he said. “If people want to Save Stotan Falls then they should lobby their provincial government to get back control of the riverways granted to the E&N Railway in 1879.”
Gordon is urging people not to sign the petition, which is also up on the Change.org website.
He said the petition may be well-intentioned, “but it basically demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the RGS and if it was successful it would condemn any natural component of Stotan Falls due to destruction. It would also set back the infilling initiatives of other developers that are occurring now due to the restrictions created by the RGS.”
Decafnation reached out to Dave Mellin, a retired Courtenay business person, who has made presentations to the regional district board and Courtenay council about saving Stotan Falls. We asked if he was behind the petition.
He declined to comment for this story.
The petition reads, “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.”
A lively discussion on various social media pages speculates that the anonymous petition organizers may be working on behalf of 3L, as their latest attempt to push the Riverwood subdivision through local governments.
If the petition is presented to the City of Courtenay, the venue of the debate will shift from the regional district to City Council but the arguments may remain the same: amend the Regional Growth Strategy or not.
Area A Director Arbour says Courtenay councillors will have to consider the broader implications.
“Annexing the lands into the City of Courtenay may risk more urban sprawl and a threat to agricultural and forestry lands. All the jurisdictions would still have to come together to consider the implications on the Regional Growth Strategy,” he said. “Courtenay would also have to consider how this fits in relation to their new OCP, which appears to favour densification.”
In a comment on Facebook, another nearby resident, Lisa Benard Christensen said, “That petition has little to do with saving the falls. From the comments of the people signing. I would think they do not know what they are asking for. They do not understand what it means for Courtenay to annex the lands. That annexation would come at a huge cost.
“We would be telling developers we don’t hold to our hard-won long term plans, that we don’t mind urban sprawl long before areas that are easier to provide transit and services to are infilled.
“It would take away from the rural feel of the area, allowing a concentrated block of 1000+ families and their guests and pets to take it over.
“Anyone that thinks that tiny falls recreation area could withstand that influx let alone still have room for the nostalgic outsiders to enjoy it is kidding themselves.
“This petition is basically a Trojan horse. A flashy statement meant to appeal to people’s nostalgia and their frustration at being denied access. It encourages a snap decision, hoping they don’t read too much into what annexation would actually do to the area.
“The best way to save the falls is to hold strong to our RGS and not allow this urban sprawl to occur. The price is too high. Don’t believe the illusion, research fully before you sign anything. Much is at stake here.”
Area C Director Edwin Grieve said the regional district is looking into resurrecting the regional parks service that was never rescinded but has been on mothballs for 25 years.
“Everything moves at the laborious “speed of government” so it all takes time but, once the parks service bylaw is active, it is possible for the CVRD to go to the Municipal Financial Authority and borrow money at a very low-interest rate over an extended period against that,” he told Decafnation.
“Dave (Mellin) and the boys are correct in realizing that any development south of the Puntledge River would be in Courtenay’s settlement expansion area and it clearly says in the RGS that “services would be extended through annexation into the Municipality,” he said. “Once the land is out of the Electoral Area, the 4-hectare minimum lot size and many more restrictive regulations could cease to apply.”
This article has been updated to include Director Grieve’s comments and to correct that he referred to Dave Mellin.
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Is there anything that can be done? Yes!
All of these lands belong to comix First Nations- they are “unceeded “ which means no territory rights were signed.
If Comix First Nations steps in – with assistance from crvd, they can ask to remove the right to water, timber, and minerals, be returned to the crown.
It’s absolutely appalling that this land was given away to build a railroad & the company, does hold this title. There is no railway anymore, therefore, the land that has been terribly managed by forest companies, and private companies, should be returned to Comix First Nations.
I might be mistaken but would not the property be logged if subdivided anyway? As the existing properties currently recognized for development are depleted the 3L holdings would become “ripe” for consideration. A great holding property for 3L and the falls will still be there.
I do not feel that economic extortion should be rewarded. When originally purchased I am certain the current owners were aware of the zoning in place and the uses available to them.
I would hate to see all this land logged off. I am witness to the way developers are building in the city of Courtenay. No betterment of the areas, no place for kids to play…all house no land…I personally am appalled by these. Where I live the kids play on the road. Let people buy some property so the kids don’t only have video games to play…let’s think of the future…do we want all this land logged off and ruined. All the soil washed into the River still more fish habitant ruined. The Regional district and city planners are not thinking of the future at all…there are so many people from other areas moving in that the houses are sold before the foundations are stripped. Do something to make more land available for the future population.
We agree that the Riverwood urban-sprawl development proposed by 3L does not align with the CVRD Regional Growth Strategy or with 21st century development best practices. We agree that the triangle of land between the Brown’s River and the Puntledge River has enormous environmental and recreational value. It would be ideal for a regional park.
There is a huge need for additional park space. Hundreds of apartments and condominiums are slated for development in the Comox Valley (300 in Comox alone). Planners have set aside little or no additional park space for the occupants of these new high-density developments. The BC Local Government Act, written in the days of urban-sprawl, single-family, residential development, only requires developers to dedicate 5% of the gross area of the development land to park space, regardless of the number of storeys or housing units on the property. (In other provinces and states, park space dedication is based on the number of units or population served.) Developers are not paying their fair share for community amenities including park space.
None of us wishes to see the land owned by 3L clear-cut or used for a gravel pit. We live in a civil society. We cannot expropriate the land without providing compensation. So, how do we pay for it?
We can all agree that Stotan Falls Park will serve all residents of the regional district. As such, all CVRD residents, including the residents of new developments, should be expected to contribute. Interest rates are the lowest in history. If we are going to borrow the money to buy the land, now is the time to do it. It may be possible to obtain matching funding from provincial or federal governments, but there is a very long line of “supplicants” ahead of us.
Our elected officials at the provincial and local level have failed us. Why isn’t Ronna-Rae Leonard demanding changes to the Local Government Act to ensure that park space dedication is based on the population served rather than gross land area? Why was the CVRD Regional Park Strategy bylaw allowed to lapse? Why is it going to take 2 years and $25,000 to hire a consultant to tell us what we already know?
Thank you, George for keeping us all informed!
My name is Ally Gibson. I am one of the people behind the Save Stotan Falls petition. I have lived in the Comox Valley for 61 years. I raised two children in the valley who both reside here and I have two grandchildren. As a child growing up I enjoyed Stotan falls and want my grand children to have the same opportunity. That is my agenda, plain and simple. This talk about a Trojan Horse is absolute nonsense. I have never met nor spoken with Mr. Dutcyvich and wouldn’t know him when passing him on the street. Please, if unsure and before signing the petition please separate the facts from the emotion. The facts are out there. Saving Stotan Falls is very important to our valley and this proposal is very worthy of your consideration.
I hike in the Seal Bay Nature park daily and it is getting very busy. Parking on Bates road is becoming hazardous because of the amount of people (plus dogs and children) using this parking lot and some days people must park on the shoulder even with the recent new parking lot that was built on Hardy Road to accommodate more vehicles including horse trailers. The valley needs more parks like this and we cannot have too many.
I understand the Regional Growth Strategy Plan and the importance of having such a strategy. As Eisenhower once said “Planing is everything, the plan is nothing.” Our plan needs to be dynamic and current to be valid. It needs to change with the needs of the times and cannot be static. The folks that are saying we cannot add the Stotan Falls proposal into the Regional Growth Strategy Plan are not being realistic. I read the comments from these folks opposed to the petition and have to wonder if they may actually be the Trojan Horse in sheep’s clothing. What is their agenda? Added traffic on Piercy Road? I also read they are not opposed to timber harvesting because the area has been logged before….so has Seal Bay Park!
Time to get real.
Please read the facts and help get this area protected.
I’ve seen this before , underhanded developers trying to trick people into swaying projects their way. Big business and big money rarely have a soul. All they have is greed. This development would be disastrous and set a precedence. I left the mainland years ago precisely because of this type of situation. Now more than ever we need to preserve and protect lands, it’s not just belonging to a few. We must and need to change our views on how we take care of our surroundings.
Anytime I see an anonymous group promoting a government party, development, or any other large scale production, I am immediately suspicious. If they are unwilling to put their names on record, then I will immediately assume they are being disingenuous to their true motivations. Anybody that has to hide their identity are clearly trying to conceal their real intentions.
This is not a new tactic, it has happened before in BC.
It is definitely cherry picking to focus on “(A) major goal of the 20 year Regional Growth Strategy! * ‘A’, sounds like ‘one’, whereas ALL the goals of the Regional Growth Strategy focus on Urban Containment. This petition letter is unclear about exactly which properties would be developed at urban core densities and which would be dedicated as park. It reads as though they are asking for all the 3L lands to be annexed into Courtenay, even though they have several properties on both sides of the river, which, incidentally, makes a natural urban containment boundary.
If anyone is thinking of signing such an unclear petition I suggest they study the incredible complicated, history of these lands that is 3L’s legacy here. The petition simplifies and ignores the history and confuses the situation. Kind of like the time 3L asked people swimming at Stotan/Stokum if they wanted it to be a park and then used their count of those enthusiastic ‘yes’ answers to suggest that, that many people wanted to challenge the Regional Growth Strategy to allow 3L to build 1,100 homes right beside the falls.
This is the first time in a long time that an actual figure has been posed re: a price on the ‘Park’. That is a good start. I wonder who these petition starters are and where they got that figure? It would be wonderful to obtain the river and trails and I’m glad that is being pursued as was moved by Daniel Arbour, and passed, last time these guys were turned down.
Good plan to densify the Urban core. So how does Union Bay Developments and Saratoga Beach fit in? I see densification on small waterfront lots in my neighbour hood, a carriage house next to a very substantial house, with very little land left.RGS?
So , I understand people being upset , me too, about the bully logger who owns the river bed. Ronna Rae own s this issue.
I still wonder how Covid infected travellers are allowed to fly into Comox Aiport without testing?
By the way, the Comox Airport facility is just one of the many projects that Dave Mellin has brought about in his many decades as a community volunteer.
You must be smoking stuff from the 20 million dollar pot research centre just by the Airport.
Linda Harrison — You should really inform yourself by reading the RGS. Then you would understand how Union Bay and Saratoga fit in.
Thanks for your professional journalism. There is no better place to live. As you may have read today, the folks who want to preserve Parkland
Here, have deep roots in the Comox Valley.
The RGS review that I last attended, had abysmal public input. If you attend many CVRD meeting , you will know that few attend.
So our Professionals are in control of policy. There are At least four administration here within this relatively small area and population.
So it seems that our professionals and our elected representatives could make a decision to preserve green space for future generations. And with the support of our Provincial Government who gave away river beds over a century ago
Sounds like a “Trojan Horse” built by 3L. Who in their right minds would blindly sign a petition by an anonymous group. Everything about this 3L development has been underhanded and mean spirited from the start. 3L bought land that has been deemed low density rural and have ever since have tried to force the good people of Courtenay to comply with their high density demands. We really need to take back the lands from the E&N land grant.
Dave Mellin has been a community leader on many projects for many years. He does things to benefit all.
Could not agree more, this fellow not to be trusted! For reference check out previous dealings with CVRD.
I could not have said this better myself..you have stated this perfectly Lisa Lisa Benard Christensen Definitely a ‘Trojan Horse’. Anything to do with 3L ~ DD is not to be trusted at all..the truth of the matter speaks for itself in his past dealings with the Comox Valley Regional District/all other developments..**do some research re this people before you sign this petition** and for sure he is to be watched carefully! Anyone who hides behind a name without coming out to let their names be known as in “Save Stotan Falls Committee” can be lumped in with DD and his underhanded dealings..for sure; and NOT to be trusted either. We have an RGS (Regional Growth Strategy) that was long fought in being established..and should the City of Courtenay fall for this ploy..we are all headed for big trouble with all future big developers trying to make a fast buck at the expense of the little guy/little community! Those who moved to the Comox Valley for its beauty and a place to bring up family as our family chose to do..moving from the big City of Victoria, so our four children could have respect and love of Nature..and access to the beauty of Nature..through outdoor activities will be giving their heads a shake about now. The Comox Valley is a place of beauty..let us keep it that way! Gilwell Park owned by Scouts Canada will fall..as a beautiful wilderness campsite next door on the Browns River..many youth have benefitted from Gilwell Park over the years..both in Scouting, and Guiding..these youth groups are the Leaders of tomorrow. Thank you Save The Puntledge Triangle for all you do in keeping us informed…and I say hang your heads in shame all those who fall for the Trojan! DO NOT SIGN THIS PETITION, PLEASE! …and thank you also to our Comox Valley Regional District for staying the course on the RGS… City of Courtenay Beware!
Is there an opposing petition we can sign to let the CVRD know we see through this propaganda petition for what it is and don’t want them – ever – to give in to 3L’s bullying?
This developer has applied at least three times and sued the CVRD at least twice. This proposal has been turned down by all stakeholders, including First Nations. This developer wants to bypass the Regional Growth Strategy and the Official Community Plan. There are many developers who choose to work within the RGS and the OCP. What does it say to them if we allow developers who bully, threaten and bribe to be allowed special consideration because they are holding a community gem in their control? I would use the word holding it “hostage” but the most recent 3L front man has said that they will consider suing anyone who used this word. That’s how these guys play. I feel, as a politically healthy, democratic society we can find a way to turn down this development which is nothing less than urban sprawl and regain the use of Stotan Falls. If you haven’t done so I strongly encourage you to look into the historical practices of this developer and then ask yourself is this a guy you want to be in charge of planning our community? If you do you might as well throw out the work of many elected officials, planners, committees and residents who want planned and fair development within this valley.
Let them have their fake news just don’t make it real