First Nations blessing for Baynes Sound development

K'omoks and Qualicum First Nation elders and dancers blessed the ground in Deep Bay, overlooking Baynes Sound Tuesday, but it could take years before the development company they support starts work there.

Norman Frank (from left)

Norman Frank (from left)

K’omoks and Qualicum First Nation elders and dancers blessed the ground in Deep Bay, overlooking Baynes Sound Tuesday, but it could take years before the development company they support starts work there.

Baynes Sound Investments Ltd. has planned a $100 million residential community project for the site, a stone’s throw from both the Deep Bay Marina and the new Vancouver Island University shellfish research station. Developer Jim Crawford says there are plans for 385 doors in the lower lot, or first phase of the project. The second includes 292 recreational vehicle lots.

It’s a major development for the Deep Bay area, and in effect, creates an almost entirely new community there. Crawford called it a sustainable neighbourhood, with 50 per cent of the area to be left as green space.

“It’s a place where people can live and work for a long period of time,” he explained.

A long period of time, however, is what the developers are looking at when it comes to ever putting  shovel in the ground. Amar Bains, a partner in BSI, said they have developed the plans over three years and have spend the last one-and-a-half years trying to get permission and permits through the Regional District of Nanaimo. He said the project was not included in the recent RDN regional growth strategy, which has become a major obstacle to even getting the project on the table. He said their zoning application was submitted to the RDN in April. As of now, he said, there is no development project timeline.

That hasn’t stopped the company from consulting with the community. They’ve held three open houses in the area, and have been working with area First Nations to secure their permission and blessing to build on the land. That was the reasons for Tuesday’s ceremony with the two First Nations.

“We have received the blessing of both nations,” said Bains.

He added they have also signed a memorandum of understanding with them, ensuring that the project will help the economies of the K’omoks and Qualikum nations as much as they can.

On Tuesday, elders with the two First Nations offered their prayers for the future of the land, praying the development will take into account their reverence of nature.

The Kumugwe Dancers of the K’omoks First Nation performed ceremonial steps in blessing the land. In a spectacular display, Jessie Everson performed the Peace Dance (Tlasala), shaking out eagle down from a special headdress.

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