19 years after it was first proposed, Union Bay development ready to go


WATCH: A new development in Union Bay will include nearly 3,000 residential units, two hotels, a new marina and maybe even a new school some day. Dean Stoltz reports. 

Union Bay is a tiny seaside community 15 minutes south of Courtenay where roughly 1,200 people live a slow-paced, quiet existence.

However, that’s about to change in a big way and long-time resident Gary Dane says he’s ready for it.

“Just bring some life in this community again, get some young people in here, get some families, like it used to be,” said Dane.

The way it used to be, included a population of 10,000 people when Union Bay was a busy port shipping local coal to destinations around the world. That all ended in the 1950s and 60s. Union Bay almost became a ghost town.

But 19 years ago, a developer saw great potential to grow Union Bay again and now nearly two decades later, Kensington Union Bay Properties says it’s ready to move forward with a massive development.

“We?ve got the green light, some changes were made and you know the numbers were reduced, we had some additional requirements and now we can move forward,” said Kensington Union Bay Properties Vice President Brian McMahon.

But it took nearly two decades to get to the point where the development could be built. There were hurdles that included everything from court challenges to dealing with a former Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) board that many people say took an acrimonious approach to dealing with potential development.

“Well there?s been quite a political struggle to get this development recognized.” said current UBID chair Peter Jacques, speaking about the past board.

“A lot of developers would?ve walked away. Why was it so worth it to you?” McMahon was asked. “Well let?s look at the water out here. We have the opportunity to build development on this kind of a backdrop, we have waterfront property, we have water view property and it was just something you know I couldn?t let go,” said McMahon.

The multi-phase development will include almost 2949 residential units over 15 years, a new marina, two new hotels, land for a new fire hall, commercial development and eventually a new school.

“I think it?s a good thing yeah I think it?ll bring life and families to Union Bay.” said resident Trish Campbell.

“You know that?s the way it goes, development, it comes up everywhere and you know I was never against it,” added resident Renate. Kolzig.

The first phase, which includes some commercial properties could begin as early as this spring.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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