Map of the site of a proposed 60-unit building project in French Creek. (RDN map)

Map of the site of a proposed 60-unit building project in French Creek. (RDN map)

Legal counsel wants board to award development permit for French Creek project

Issue is on agenda for RDN board meeting on June 22

The legal counsel for the owner of a proposed 60-unit building development on Lee Road West in French Creek wants the Regional District of Nanaimo board to consider approving its development permit application.

Neil Carfra of Cox Taylor has sent RDN board a letter indicating the developers have achieved all the necessary Official Community Plan guidelines including water and sewer requirements and should be issued a building permit.

At the June 7 Electoral Area Services Committee meeting, RDN staff recommended the board approve a development permit for the phased building strata project.

But Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) director Lehann Wallace made a motion to defer until staff can present a report she requested and endorsed by the RDN board last December on the regional district’s development authority options for the French Creek area to protect at-risk or stressed aquifers.

Wallace hoped a report would become available before the development permit application is presented to the board for consideration.

READ MORE: French Creek plan in the works

Staff indicated the RDN will soon embark on a substantial water study that will explore the supply and demand in the French Creek area. But they won’t be available until the first quarter of 2022.

Carfra in his letter indicated the board should approve the development permit despite the motion to defer. He argues the developers have met the water and sewer requirements and were approved by RDN staff.

Wallace is concerned about the dwindling water supply in the French Creek area.

“The facts are screaming at us,” she said. “We’re at the end of a water supply that doesn’t have any redundancy or connectivity to alternate source at this time. And so to make that decision today without having that information at hand I don’t think is responsible. I’d like a much more measured approach which I think is necessary when you get towards the end of a water allocation that we’re in now.”

RDN’s manager of long range planning, Paul Thompson, indicated the actual requirement to connect to the community water system falls under the zoning bylaw and not relevant to the development permit application.

Carfra pointed out there is a covenant on the title that requires water and sewer services connections for the development to be secured. Without it, no building will be allowed.

“This covenant acts as a brake on construction in the absence of an ability to connect to the community water services,”

said Carfra.

The first phase of the development, for 10 dwellings fronting Lee Road, Carfra explained, will not draw on groundwater as it will be fully serviced by EPCOR’s water system. A proof has been provided to RDN staff that confirms the developers have secured water from EPCOR for the first two phases of the project. They have also applied to EPCOR and Comptroller of Water Rights for approval for the balance of the 60 water connections, which the developers paid to EPCOR a $1,008,000 contribution in aid of future construction charge.

Carfra said the RDN board is legally bound to provide a rationale for refusing to proceed or issue a development permit.

“Such reasons must be sufficient and referenced to the guidelines so that my client knows what must be done to make its plans acceptable,” said Carfra.

The issue is on the agenda of the RDN board’s regular meeting on June 22.

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