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Our take: Keep Stoney Hill rural, but let the road go through
We are not in favour of a Maple Bay Peninsula dotted with homes in a style reminiscent of the bay’s western shore.
We prefer the current combination of well-managed municipal forest, the new steeply forested jewel that is Sansum Point Park and the semi-exclusive remote residential properties that dot the northern tip.
But for three reasons, we are in favour of the proposed Stoney Hill Road.
The first is Sansum Point Park. At the moment, the park borders are accessible only to boaters, or people trekking on foot through the municipal forest reserve. People should have more convenient access to this $1.85-million CVRD acquisition.
The second is the convoluted legal process that got us to this point. The proposal on the table right now is the conclusion of a deal brokered through mediation to address longstanding access concerns by property owners. It is a real possibility that if this deal falls apart, North Cowichan taxpayers could be left dealing with a far more costly alternative — a court battle ending with the taxpayer paying not only legal fees, but a larger share of the road.
Finally — and most importantly — is something that has tended to be forgotten in the rhetoric: the road is something the residents want. They voted 63 percent in favour of it and are willing to chip in 80 per cent of the $2.5 million cost out of their own pockets.
We do not want to see the character of this part of the valley changed, and we understand easier access and the possibility of power are two potential catalysts for development.
But the checks and balances for protecting the neighbourhood rest in the same place they have always rested — municipal law, elected officials who respect the wishes of their constituents and people willing to stand and fight for the protection of their community.
The road is not the issue. It should be approved.