Letters to the editor.

Golden opportunity missed to down-zone property

Council chooses to continually ignore the official community plan in its decisions

The following is addressed to the mayor and council of North Cowichan:

Congratulations on again ignoring our official community plan on June 2 and approving a 108 modular-home site, to be called Morgan Maples, at 9090 Trans-Canada Highway.

Why do we have an OCP if council chooses to selectively ignore its recommendations?

Councillors blew a golden opportunity to legally down-zone this treed, 21.5-acre property – north of a site already logged off as North Cowichan sadly has no tree bylaw – to rural use.

Council apparently rejected Coun. Rob Douglas’ wise down-zoning recommendation in the name of creating affordable housing.

But council still has no realistic definition of affordable housing. At what price, where, what design, and affordable to whom?

Indeed, councillors’ vague definitions of affordable housing (heard in their June 2 debate) appear to be based on gut feelings – not factual, creative planning – about who can afford a home amid B.C.’s recklessly red-hot housing market.

Council is facing an affordable-housing crisis now because it failed to plan for future demand across a broad range of prices, locations, designs and needs.

Instead, developers basically build what they wish based on maximizing profits and following North Cowichan’s weak, arcane development policies.

And despite council’s claims of climate action and environmental thinking, our municipality still has no design nor green-planning policies. That’s called green wash.

As for real housing affordability, there are no assurances of that at Morgan Maples, Coun. Rob Douglas indicates in the June 10, 2021 Cowichan Valley Citizen newspaper.

Why not? If council aimed for affordability by green-lighting this hideous highway sprawl – outside of our urban containment boundary – a defined, affordable price tag should surely have been part of that decision.

And a cogent tree-protection bylaw would prevent the impending scalping of the Morgan Maples’ site.

But our municipality has a long history of bungling housing projects, spawning long-term sprawl and eco-embarrassment.

Examples span the Cliffs Over Maple Bay disaster, the Donnay Drive gaff and an ugly patchwork of small projects shoved into established neighbourhoods.

Council, please follow our official community plan. If in doubt, please err on the side of our threatened local environment.

Peter W. Rusland,

North Cowichan

CommunityHousingLetter to the EditorMunicipal Government