Developer Ron King talks to North Cowichan’s council at its meeting on Sept. 19 about his proposal to build a 230-unit housing project in Crofton. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Developer Ron King talks to North Cowichan’s council at its meeting on Sept. 19 about his proposal to build a 230-unit housing project in Crofton. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

A 230-unit housing development for Crofton gets green light from council

Project on Osborne Bay Road would increase population by 30 per cent

A housing development that could see Crofton’s population increase by as much as 34 per cent is another step closer to reality.

North Cowichan council unanimously gave third reading to the proposal that could see up to 230 new housing units, which would house up to 575 new residents, constructed along Osborne Bay Road after a public hearing on Sept. 19.

Developer Ron King said at the hearing the concept is to provide housing that is affordable and environmentally friendly.

He said the target customers for the homes, with some as small as 588 square feet, include those coming into the housing market for the first time and empty nesters.

“The plan is to offer the homes at below $300,000 to address a demographic that is currently not able to achieve home ownership,” King said.

“We intend to construct the development in 12 phases.”

The project, which is within the municipality’s urban containment boundary, would cover 14.6 hectares and be a mixed single unit and two-unit strata development to include a clubhouse, communal space and up to seven guest cabins around the clubhouse.

As a community amenity, the developer is proposing a $500 per lot contribution to the municipality’s affordable housing reserve fund.

Over the course of the development, this would contribute $115,000 to the fund.

The developer would provide $300,000 to North Cowichan as infrastructure leverage funding for a new water reservoir for the area as well.

The developer has also agreed to dedicate five per cent of the total property to parkland, which would include a playground and a dog park, as well as constructing biking and pedestrian trails through the development.

A staff report has indicated a review of the capacity of the existing municipal sewer system has been conducted and no concerns have been identified if the project gets the green light.

Some delegations at the meeting raised residents’ concerns with the project, however.

One man said he fears Crofton will eventually become a series of densified neighbourhoods with small properties, with little room for people looking to live on larger properties.

Another resident who owns property adjacent to the development proposal said while she’s not totally opposed to the project, she is concerned about increased noise from the new neighbourhood and trespassing onto her property.

Coun. Kate Marsh said she finds the project innovative, green, and able to give a “leg up” to many people who currently can’t afford home ownership.

“I’m happy that a developer is finding this project marketable and is willing to invest in it,” she said.

Coun. Al Siebring said he has heard some concerns raised, but he doesn’t think those complaining fully understand what the project entails.

“We’re getting $300,000 towards a new water reservoir and $500 per unit for affordable housing,” he said.

“As for concerns about sewage, staff have indicated that it’s not a concern. I have every confidence that our infrastructure can sustain this project and I would vote for it twice if I could.”

Coun. Joyce Behnsen said the “wheels turn slowly” but the project is finally moving forward.

“I’m happy to support it,” she said.

“But the developer having to pay $500 per unit for affordable housing seems like a penalty. I’d rather see that money left in the pocket of the developer to do a really good job on the project.”

Coun. Tom Walker said the project is consistent with the aims of the official community plan.

“I like the plans for the bike lanes and trails,” he said.

“These don’t come free.“

Council will consider giving the project the fourth and final reading at a future council meeting.