Considering it a compromise, Courtenay councillors accepted the latest version of the Comox Valley Regional Growth Strategy this week.
Council accepted Monday the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) bylaw, as amended by the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) board in late January.
The principle amendments include the designation of the Mount Washington chainup area on the Strathcona Parkway to allow tourist commercial uses, the designation of K’ómoks First Nation lands adjacent to Union Bay as a “settlement node,” and the expansion of the Settlement Expansion Area (SEA) on the northern boundary of Cumberland near the Puntledge River.
As well, the amendments include rewording the policies in the SEA sections of the RGS to state the document does not compel a local government or service provider to enter into a servicing agreement.
Coun. Murray Presley was the only councillor to vote against the RGS.
“No. 1, it doesn’t give Mount Washington, a major employer in the Valley, what they wanted, which I thought was quite reasonable,” he said. “This is being finalized before K’ómoks First Nation settlement awards have been finalized. It will definitely increase property values within the municipalities to the detriment of areas outside municipalities and not in a growth area.
“It will be a lot more difficult to develop a new project outside the municipal boundaries, something we can’t even contemplate like, for instance, another Mount Washington or Disneyland or whatever.
“For all those reasons and the fact that I think any development that takes place should be looked at on its own merits, I’m still opposed to this.”
Coun. Larry Jangula shared some of Presley’s concerns about discouraging potential new developments that could provide entertainment, employment and economic growth, but he was glad local governments would not be compelled to sell services beyond their boundaries.
Coun. Doug Hillian reluctantly supported the RGS.
“I do see this as a compromise, as an attempt by all the governments in the Comox Valley to work together and to come up with some sort of orderly pattern of development and to have a structure for dealing with the extreme pressures to develop.”
The revised bylaw is being resubmitted to the affected local governments for acceptance prior to final adoption by the CVRD board.