A community close to nature

The Dutton family wants to build 160 housing units, a clubhouse and an events pavilion at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Qualicum Beach

Architect John Larson’s drawing of the proposed pavilion for Pheasant Glen Golf Resort that could host weddings and many different events.

Architect John Larson’s drawing of the proposed pavilion for Pheasant Glen Golf Resort that could host weddings and many different events.

Plans for a dramatic, uniquely designed housing and amenities-laden development at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort could be in front of Qualicum Beach town council for consideration before the end of 2013.

Pheasant Glen owners say they will listen to public input before submitting the application for the development of 100 vacation homes, 60 resort cabins, a clubhouse and pavilion. The Dutton family hosted two open houses at the golf course Monday and more than 100 people attended.

The project will need an Official Community Plan amendment and zoning changes from the Town of Qualicum Beach, along with approval from the Regional District of Nanaimo for changes to its Regional Growth Strategy.

“It will give people the opportunity to live near the golf course, to be in a neighbourhood that’s pretty close to Mother Nature in many ways,” said Craig Dutton. “And living at the foot of Mount Arrowsmith is a pretty spectacular view when you’re out on your morning walk.”

The Duttons are hopeful they can have the clubhouse built by the time the course hosts the 2016 B.C. Men’s Amateur Golf Championship, one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the country.

The family did submit a plan, which was approved, for development of the resort years ago, but it had a hotel facility and did not require any OCP amendments. That plan called for 225 dwelling units as opposed to the 160 in the current plan. Before they submitted that original plan, Dutton commissioned a survey, completed by nation research firm Stratcom in March of 2011, that found 68 per cent of Qualicum Beach residents supported zoning changes to clear the way for a mixed residential resort development at Pheasant Glen.

“I told my colleagues at the time if the people of Qualicum Beach were against the project, we’d accept that,” said Dutton. “When we found we had as much support as we did, we started to move forward.”

Dutton said he believes the results of the survey are still valid, but he also said he wants to hear new input from residents.

“I believe roughly two-thirds of the population believe a residential element (permanent residences) in the resort is not only OK, but an enhancement to the old plan,” said Dutton. “I think the challenge is to convince the community of Qualicum Beach this is a good, solid project the community can be proud of, the rest follows from that.”

Members of the family’s team say it could take a decade to fully build the community, a $32 million construction project. Town water lines are close to the property on Rupert Road and the town’s sewer system would be extended from Chartwell subdivision.

The project would provide the town with $3.5 million in development cost charges and approximately $500,000 in property tax revenue once fully built. The proposal is for what’s called a bare-land strata, so any maintenance of roads, etc. would not be the responsibility of the town.

Those attending the open houses Monday heard presentations from Dutton and his team, including architect John Larson of CA Design of Qualicum Beach and Nigel Gray of the Parksville-based planning firm, Macdonald Gray. Gray said having the permanent 100 single-family homes is key to the success of the new neighbourhood and its planned restaurant, cafe, fitness facility, clubhouse and other amenities.

“It’s the off-season amenities that are a big issue for golf resorts right now,” said Gray. “You really need to have bodies on the ground supporting the amenities.”

Larson’s drawings of the clubhouse and pavilion are striking.

“The concept from the beginning was we better have the best deck in town,” he said.

Tom Davies is the president of the Chartwell Residents Association. He attended one of the open houses on Monday.

“If they keep to their word and it’s not going to cost taxpayers any money to do this, it’s fine and dandy,” said Davies. “The DCCs alone — that would pay for a fire hall. They seem to have their hats on square. They are not going to go to the town and ask for this or that or subsidies. They are just a recurring business after that — it’s their gamble. But I think the concept is nice.”