After a six month hiatus, a Surrey-based development company hosted a three day invite-only meeting to discuss the future of their 341 acre property in the heart of Deep Bay.
Though the vision is only in its infancy, Baynes Sound Investment president Amar Bains said the new project may include lodge accommodations, a pub style restaurant, affordable housing options, walking trails, lots of green space and a second access point to the highway — all ideas which came out of the May 2-4 meeting hosted at the neighbouring VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station.
Bains said BSI “will only submit a development application (to the RDN) if we see overwhelming support from the community.”
BSI is best known in the area for a failed development application which would have seen 200 single-family homes, a 292-unit RV park, retail/commercial space and 40 hectares of park space introduced to Deep Bay.
The project was unanimously voted down by RDN board members last October as the proposal required significant changes to the official community plan and regional growth strategy.
Twenty-four people attended the meeting including representatives from the Mapleguard Ratepayers’ Association (MRA), the business community and local residents. Bains said RDN staff and board members were invited but did not attend.
Bains said the meeting was not advertised publicly because BSI wanted to run small-scale workshops in an effort to gather a more comprehensive account of what the community wants to see in terms of development projects.
“Last time around there were concerns the community wasn’t really consulted,” said Bains. “So we’ve restarted the whole project with a community workshop.”
According to Bains, last year’s plan has been completely scrapped and the developers are now “seeking public consultation and working with the public.”
Long time Deep Bay resident Marg Healey said she was impressed with the meeting — where every person in attendance had the opportunity to contribute and communicate with the developers.
“BSI went to great lengths to invite a large cross section of people to this meeting,” said Healey. “I have never been to a more civil meeting in 42 years and I’ve been very involved in the community.”
Healey said she likes this plan better than the last one and feels the developers are “going the extra mile” to consult with the public.
However, MRA president Dianne Eddy is calling on the RDN to conduct a neighbourhood plan for Deep Bay.
“It’s a very complex issue,” said Eddy. “Unfortunately sometimes developers think development will draw young people to an area — that doesn’t happen out here.”
While Eddy confirmed the MRA isn’t opposed to development, she noted “we are opposed to development not respecting the RDN’s regional growth strategy and the official community plan — these plans represent the choice of residents developed by a democratic process.”
RDN director Bill Veenhof said he is happy to see BSI consulting with the community.
“I’m neutral,” said Veenhof, in terms of the development project. “I want the people to make the decision.”
BSI project manager Jim Crawford said connecting with Deep Bay residents has been “an educational process for all of us.”
“We’re trying to figure out what the community requires and what they need and want,” said Crawford.
“These are the people that live in the community who, at the end of the day, will be neighbours to this project.”
Crawford said an application proposal could be submitted to the RDN as early as the end of this year.