Regional District again rejects 3L Developments, amending regional growth strategy

Regional District again rejects 3L Developments, amending regional growth strategy

Regional District again rejects 3L Developments, amending regional growth strategy


The Comox Valley Regional District today rejected for a second time the Riverwood housing development.

3L Developments Inc. had applied in 2017 to the regional district board and again in May of this year to the regional district’s Electoral Areas Services Commission to support amending the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

The company wants to develop about 500 acres in a triangle between the Browns and Puntledge rivers, but that isn’t allowed under the RGS. Their previous application was rejected by the regional district board in 2018.

But after vetting the current proposal with Comox Valley local governments, agencies and First Nations over the summer, the commission voted 2-1 to accept the regional district staff recommendation and refuse this new request.

The commission had referred the proposal to Comox Valley agencies, First Nations and the Courtenay, Cumberland and Comox municipalities for feedback. None of them responded in support of the proposal.

After a lengthy discussion that was at times testy, Commission members Daniel Arbour (Area A director) and Arzeena Hamir (Area B director) voted in favour of Arbour’s motion to refuse the request. Edwin Grieve (Area C director) voted against it.

Earlier in the meeting, Rob Buchan, a retired municipal planner representing 3L Developments, warned that the ownership group led by Dave Dutcyvich would pursue other interests on the property, including logging and gravel extraction.

Buchan presented the commission with a revised version of the proposed Riverwood development that moved the residential lots south of the Puntledge River and included space allotted for a Farmer’s Market and an ‘agriplex.’

He argued that because the local governments and agencies were referred the first version of their 2020 Riverwood proposal, but had not seen their revised version, that the referral feedback was invalid.

And he said that any feedback would only be valid if it was based on the merits of amending the RGS rather than focused “on some general concept” of the Riverwood plan.

Alana Mullaly, the CVRD’s senior manager for planning and protective services, said she was confident that local government planning directors and Chief Administration Officers understood the referral process and that they knew what they were looking at and why.

Arbour said the revised proposal felt a little like a “bait and switch” ploy by the company.

“There was an extensive public process in 2017-2018 that resulted in rejection. I expected this second kick at the can would have addressed those concerns with your best foot forward,” he said to Buchan.

3L Developments Inc. wants their property designated at a “settlement node” under the RGS that would allow denser subdivision.

But Arbour pointed out the company could apply to the City of Courtenay to expand its boundaries to include Riverwood, or to support an RGS amendment application to the regional district board.



Grieve, who chairs the commission, at times, invoked Biblical references and at other times seemed to chide the other directors for having “little mindsets.”

Grieve was enthusiastic during the meeting about working with 3L Developments to find a compromise that would add new parkland to the regional district’s portfolio. And making a deal would missout on a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

“it’s all about the parkland,” he said. “It’s sad to see our natural jewels disappear.”

“Beseeching” Directors Hamir and Arbour to refer the 3L request to the full regional district board to consider initiating the amendment process, Grieve questioned the RGS sacred status.

“The RGS isn’t some chapter out of the Bible. It wasn’t handed down from the top of Mt. Washington,” he said. “It isn’t written in stone.”

He urged Hamir and Arbour to look at the “bigger picture” of gaining parkland and saving access to Stotan Falls, the popular summer swimming spot.

“We’ve got to get out of our little mindsets,” he said.

Hamir took exception to that comment, which she interpreted as Grieve calling her and Arbour small-minded.



None of the feedback sought by the Electoral Area Services Commission supported the application to amend the Regional Growth Strategy.

Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland and K’omoks First Nation all recommended denying 3L Developments proposal. Other agencies such as the Vancouver Island Health and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure raised numerous concerns about the Riverwood development.

Cumberland and Courtenay recommended rejecting the proposal because it is inconsistent with the Regional Growth Strategy. Comox agreed, but added that the Town Council was interested “in a process which would return Stotan Falls to public access and use.”

K’omoks First Nations said the “application is located within the K’omoks statement of intent area; it is the interest of the K’omoks Nation to respectfully maintain our rights and access to the lands and resources throughout our territory.”

The Ministry of Transportation raised concerns about having a stormwater management plan, a geotechnical hazard assessment and confirmation of potable water and sewage disposal for each lot. They also raised the issue of dedicating the private logging road that bisects the property as a public road.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority had numerous concerns and recommendations. High on that list was that 3L Developments prove there is a sustainable water source on the property sufficient to meet the needs of the full development.

They also noted that Riverwood would be a car-dependent area that would never be walkable.

“We encourage the CVRD to consider this impact, contain urban sprawl and create complete, livable communities in line with Object 1A of the Regional Growth Strategy which states, local housing close to existing services,” VIHA wrote.

Other feedback included a comment from the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness on the 3L Developments claim that Riverwood would provide affordable housing. The coalition rejected that claim.

“The interests of the coalition are unaffected as the issues of affordable and non-market housing do not appear to be addressed by the 3L proposal,” they wrote.



3L Developments Inc. purchased the approximately 500-acre property in 2007 and quickly logged portions of the site. In the same year, the company also proposed to develop a self-contained community to be called Riverwood.

At the time, the regional district was conducting a community-wide process to develop the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) that was adopted as Bylaw 120 in 2010.

The regional district board originally rejected the Riverwood proposal but reconsidered it in 2018 as an application to amend the RGS at the direction of the BC Supreme Court. The regional district rejected the proposal for a second time because it was inconsistent with the RGS. 3L Developments then started another legal action to overturn that decision, but it was unsuccessful in the courts.

The regional district then amended the RGS itself to restrict who could propose amendments to the RGS. Previously, the Comox Valley Regional District was the only one in the province that allowed private parties to apply for RGS amendments.

Now only a member municipality, the Electoral Area Services Commission or the full CVRD board can request an RGS amendment and they can do so on behalf of an external agency or private party.

In May of this year, 3L Developments tried again to get approval for Riverwood by asking the Electoral Areas Services Commission to support an amendment application and refer it to the full regional district board.

The Electoral Area Services Commission voted to seek feedback from other municipalities, external agencies and First Nations before making a decision.

After receiving feedback on the application and sharing it with 3L Developments, the CVRD staff report says the developers revised their application to eliminate commercial areas, increase residential units and add areas identified as “Farmers Market” and “Agriplex.”



Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.


Comox Valley local government elections ramping up for Oct. 15 vote

Comox Valley voters will elect new councilors, mayors, regional district representatives, school board members and Island Trust reps on Oct. 15. Find out who’s running for what … and why. Decafnation returns to shine more light on local government issues and candidates

3L Developments is back, and again asking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy

3L Developments is back, and again asking to amend the Regional Growth Strategy

Photo Caption

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


Enter your email address to subscribe to the Decafnation newsletter.


Comox Valley local government elections ramping up for Oct. 15 vote

Comox Valley voters will elect new councilors, mayors, regional district representatives, school board members and Island Trust reps on Oct. 15. Find out who’s running for what … and why. Decafnation returns to shine more light on local government issues and candidates