Close to 14 acres of land adjacent to the French Creek Estuary has been designated as parkland and protected from future development. - Karly Blats photo

Close to 14 acres of land adjacent to the French Creek Estuary has been designated as parkland and protected from future development. - Karly Blats photo

Group worries about loss of trees, wildlife if development progresses near French Creek Estuary

Save French Creek Estuary Land says protection efforts don’t go far enough

Close to 14 acres of land adjacent to French Creek has been saved from future development and designated as parkland. Although campaign members with the Save French Creek Estuary Land organization support the land protection effort, they don’t think it goes far enough.

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.

Related: Close to 14 acres of estuary lands protected from development

“This Memorandum of Understanding hinges upon the sale and development of the remaining nine acres of land to a developer from Surrey, B.C. who plans to build approximately 40 to 50 dwellings there,” said Save French Creek Estuary Land member Denise Foster. “Many residents are voicing their alarm at the accelerating loss of trees in the Regional District of Nanaimo and how it is changing the livability of our community. If this development goes ahead, the last swath of second growth Coastal Douglas fir forest remaining between Parksville and Qualicum, disappears, along with its wildlife, including some species at risk.”

The Save French Creek Estuary Land group have other “serious concerns” regarding the MOU.

According to a press release from the group, a clause in the MOU states the transfer of the park land is also dependant on “the re-zoning and development applications being in place for French Creek House.”

French Creek House Ltd. is the parent company of French Creek Estates and has proposed a large development on the Marina side of the estuary with plans for a number of five story condos, substantial commercial space, and additional residential units, according to the press release.

The MOU contains a specific clause requiring re-zoning and development applications being in place for the development on the Marina side of the estuary in order for the 14 acres of land on the west side of the estuary to be transferred as park land.

Elkay Developments Ltd. has indicated plans for 40 to 50 dwellings on nine of the 23 acres of land.

Under the wording of the MOU, these dwellings could be built, then a discharge of the MOU could occur if re-zoning and development applications on the Marina side are not in place.

Foster said the Save French Creek Estuary Land campaign will continue to aim for greater protection than the MOU offers and to work in partnership to acquire additional land for a community park.

The group recently launched a new website (www.savefrenchcreekestuaryland.ca) with information about the proposed development and a petition that aims to “save coastal forest Estuary land.”