What you need to know about Stoney Hill

This is to inform of recent developments in connection with North Cowichan’s response to requests by landowners in Stoney Hill for improved road access to their properties.

On Nov. 21, council provided a summary of the terms of the petition negotiated with representatives of Stoney Hill property owners, which was supported by a clear majority (63%) of them.  Reference is also made to outstanding issues arising from council’s decision to support the petition.

To meet the terms, council proposes to adopt a bylaw that would permit the removal of six hectares of land from the Municipal Forest Reserve — mainly along an existing logging road — in order to construct to basic standards a 7.3-kilometre gravel road varying in width from eight meters to five meters.

As the first step toward the implementation of the road improvements and the shared costs, council on Nov. 9 published an alternative approval process notice in the local media, giving the public the opportunity to oppose the proposed bylaw.  According to this notice, council will proceed with its adoption unless 10% (2,150) of North Cowichan electors submit individually signed elector response forms by the 2 p.m. Friday.

These forms can be obtained at the municipal Hall or on the municipal website.  If the AAP process should fail, council would have to consider its next steps, including the possibility of going to a referendum to seek the formal assent of electors.

Council’s bulletin comments on two issues arising from the proposed bylaw that did not appear in the AAP notice.

First, it provides a summary of the division of costs of road improvements between the municipality and the affected landowners in Stoney Hill.  It is proposed that a portion of the municipal costs be covered by the sale of municipal residential lots in Stoney Hill.

Second, it is reported that council engaged in a “vigorous debate” about concerns that a new road might encourage subdivision contrary to provisions of principles in the official community plan.

The Stoney Hill area is zoned A2, permitting five-acre lot sizes.  It also permits the construction of two residential buildings on each lot.

Three large privately owned holdings in the area total some 200 acres, which may potentially permit the construction of 80 homes. One land owner with a 40-acre parcel has submitted a sub-division application.

In its effort to reach agreement, council has directed staff to prepare options as to how to preserve the rural nature of the Stoney Hill area.

The Maple Bay Community Association will try to keep members informed of developments affecting the future of this area, and particularly to advise you when council will next convene to discuss this issue. We will also try to ensure, if possible, members are provided in advance with a copy of the report that staff is preparing for council.

If you have any questions please contact me at viwac@shaw.ca.

Sheila Kitson is president Maple Bay Community Association.

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