North Cowichan council considers building pause in parts of municipality

North Cowichan council considers building pause in parts of municipality
WatchNorth Cowichan developers worry motion, if passed, would slow building and result in job losses.

The North Cowichan council is considering pausing development in parts of the municipality.

North Cowichan council is considering a motion that would stop some development applications while a new official community plan is developed.

The plan would limit suburban sprawl in areas that aren’t within walking distance of a commercial centre.

Custom homes with views overlooking Genoa Bay are in high demand but builders in the area fear their plans to build more may soon screech to a halt under the new plan.

“If the motion passes I believe that a fair number of people will be put out of work. There will be uncertainty for builders and developers moving forward and many of the green initiatives that we’ve already undertaken,” said David Messier with Modern Coastal Homes.

Developing a new community plan is a two-year process.

“Spread out development far from commercial cores has proven over the long run to cost more than it brings in,” said Coun. Christopher Justice

“It also contributes to, and is less resilient to climate change.”

But North Cowichan’s mayor disagrees with the process and he said development should continue while the official community plan is reviewed.

“But what this motion tries to do is preempt that and say until the OCP review is done here’s how we want to proceed and to me, it seems to presuppose the outcome of that and I don’t think we can do that,” said Mayor Al Siebring.

“We actually have to take that public input.”

Messier said he’s an environmentally friendly builder and what buyers want needs to be weighed as well.

“People aren’t moving to the Cowichan Valley to live in downtown Duncan. People are living in these places on the outskirts because they’re stunningly beautiful and that’s where their hearts are,” said Messier.

Messier also said the motion may open the municipality up to legal action but Justice said the motion has had two rounds of legal review.

The full-motion, staff discussion and further background by Justice can be found in the North Cowichan’s Jan. 20 council package.

North Cowichan municipal council also rejected a development permit for the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit in December after two lengthy public hearings.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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