Deep Bay development debated

Proponent asks for extension of a deadline for submitting information to Regional District of Nanaimo

Although there were two delegations slamming the proposal for Deep Bay at the Regional District of Nanaimo meeting Tuesday night, the main blow to the plan came from the developers themselves.

If approved, the proposal by Baynes Sound Investments Ltd. would see the addition of 386 residential units, commercial buildings, a 292-unit RV resort, community building, sewage treatment centre and park and open spaces in Deep Bay.

The Deep Bay Improvement District currently has roughly 1,200 residents, so the development would essentially more than double the population.

Speaking as a delegation, Baynes Sound Investments representative Jim Crawford urged the board to extend a proposed Sept. 19 deadline for receipt of all pertinent documents relating to proposed changes to the regional growth strategy and official community plan, citing issues beyond his control.

“We were given a list of 13 items to give information by July 31,” he said. “Six of the submitted reports were found to be adequate and five were inadequate. One involves a missing letter from the Deep Bay Improvement District — over which we have no control. This has been an evolving process on both sides. Several new and revised reports have been requested and BSI is working diligently to address these shortcomings.”

Crawford stressed that the planning department should not depend solely on a deadline date, but rather on the merits of the application.

“We worked diligently over the summer months to get the various reports in,” he said. “BSI has spent over $600,000 on consultants and advisors to get this far. The imposition of an arbitrary deadline of September 19 is, with all due respect, unreasonable.”

However, in a report to the board, Paul Thomas, the manager of long range planning for the RDN noted the original July 31 deadline had been voluntarily chosen by BSI itself.

“The applicant was … asked to submit additional information in support of their application and the applicant committed to providing the RDN with all requested information by July 31. This date was integral to the schedule for consultation activities outlined in the consultation plan adopted by the board on July 23.”

Information found not to be adequate, according to staff, included a report on sewage treatment and wastewater disposal, a report on potential impacts to other areas in the region, a report on surface runoff, and a report on the provision of emergency services, an inventory of aggregates at the site. As well, a report on provision of water and fire service, as well as confirmation from the Island Corridor Foundation about a new railway crossing were not provided.

Speaking to the issue, Bowser-Deep Bay director Bill Veenhof didn’t pull any punches.

“Fundamental to me is that the residents of Area H have all the information necessary to make an informed choice,” he said. “Letting the consultation proceed without the information is not possible. The dates for the communication plan no longer work. BSI got to choose the date of when they were ready to go and it seems like a simple thing, but BSI was not able to do this — and it’s not the only simple thing they’ve had problems with. Were it up to me I would ask you to reconsider the application tonight.”