Close to 14 acres of land adjacent to French Creek that was being looked at for development has been set aside for parkland.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Dec. 11 by members of the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society (FFCCS), the French Creek Residents’ Association (FCRA) and with developer Quinn Griesdale of French Creek Estates and French Creek House Ltd, to designate close to 14 of the 23 acres owned by French Creek Estates as parkland.
This will see the estuary lands, low lands and a significant part of the upland treed areas protected for future generations.
The 23 acres of land is bordered by French Creek on the east, Columbia Drive on the west, Highway 19A on the south and the subdivided properties occupied by homes facing onto Viking Way and Admiral Tryon Blvd. to the north.
“All the estuary is going to be protected,” said Pat Weber, director with the FCRA. “[The protected land] stretches all the way to Columbia Drive, along the edge of the highway and behind the houses on Viking Way.”
Weber said the FFCCS was developed 15 years ago with the intent to protect the French Creek estuary, and so the “huge donation” of land from Griesdale is a major success for the group.
“It’s just amazing that a developer would be willing to give up that much land and enter into an agreement with the community,” Weber said. “This sets the groundwork for future generations and the use of the area as an estuary park.”
French Creek Estates has entered into an agreement with Elkay Developments for the development of a part of these lands for residential purposes and are in the process of identifying the lands which will be separated from these parcels for development.
Griesdale said, although no permits for development have been approved yet, his vision for the remaining acreage is to build a village centre, with condos, town houses and some commercial properties.
“Everything from coffee shops to amenities and groceries…it’s designed to give the community some diversity as well as create a place where people don’t necessarily have to drive very far to get things they need on a daily basis,” Griesdale said.
Griesdale added that putting together the application for development “is taking quite a while.”
“I’ve been told that I need to keep patient because it’s pretty complex,” he said.
The MOU states that following receipt of the development permits by Elkay Developments and the completion of their contract for purchase and sale with French Creek Estates, transfer of the park lands will occur.
Ray Smith, president of the FFCCS, said the agreement is a “win-win” for everybody because it serves the community, FCRA and French Creek Estates.
Qualicum Beach resident Trevor Wicks, although agrees that the 14 acres being protected as parkland is a positive, believes there are some adverse implications for development happening on any of the 23 acres.
Wicks, who runs an independent water website (ouroceansidewater.com) and has more than 38 years experience working with water issues, said potential for flooding in French Creek and a “stink” that he claims comes from the French Creek Pollution Control Centre are reasons to avoid development on estuary lands. He believes these implications have the possibility to decrease property values.
“An estuary should be kept in a relatively pristine state,” Wicks said.