The 59-lot-subdivision of the Cape Roger Curtis land is proceeding swiftly and members of the community have renewed efforts to re-open the discussions about the possibility of creating amenities at the site in exchange for higher density. This topic was part of the discussion at the Monday, April 14, council meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Bill Granger expressed concerns about issues of the subdivision that had been left on the table by the approving officer, including a five per cent parkland dedication or cash-in-lieu, revisiting the ocean accesses that are required under the Land Titles Act, enforcement of streamside setback from Huczar and Burke Creeks as well as road crossing design. Granger said, "Rather than having the approved plan of subdivision adjusted, why won't council revisit the entire plan?"
In light of an agenda item that suggested opening the discussion on potential density increase, Granger suggested that council needs to take a hard look at fire protection. "We need to include fire protection, especially if we have higher density. At the moment, there is not one fire hydrant for the Cape Roger Curtis lands. All the fire protection that will be provided comes from sprinklers run from individual wells. And if the power goes out, the wells don't run." Granger said that he understands that the tanker truck at the new satellite fire hall at Cromie Road will be filled at the present fire hall with water from the Cove Bay Water System. "If some of the amenities include a continuum of care facility, then certainly the fire truck and the ambulance will need to be looked at very carefully. The fire protection there right now is deficient to say the least and if any additional density is provided, it will increase concerns for public safety."
Colleen O'Neill began her presentation by thanking council for paying attention to the issue. She said that she had met with the owners and submitted a letter to council where she suggests to "re-open discussions with the owners of the Cape on Bowen and explore the possibility of alternatives to their current 59-lot-subdivision." The letter also stated: "If we are to open the door to other amenities at the Cape, we have to move quickly as the owners have no desire to delay construction of their subdivision unless they have a clear sense that the majority of the community is willing to consider changes." As community amenities, O'Neill listed an oceanfront ecological reserve, an oceanfront park, interior park, trails, non-market housing and housing diversity, the construction of access via Thompson Road and a continuum of care facility, adding that the extent of the amenities would reflect the extent of the density granted.
At the council meeting, O'Neill said that she sees "a lot of opportunity out at the Cape" and the challenges lie in the complexity to reinvent the Cape in the short timeframe the owners want to look at. She said, "The goal is to help the owners realize their dream and help us achieve some of our dreams."
Councillor Wolfgang Duntz also had a chat with the owners of the Cape on Bowen but stressed that they asked him to meet not as a member of council but rather a former business partner. "They wanted to have my opinion on what potential the land would have for an alternative plan," he said. "They were curious what a committee, or council, or the community could come up with." Duntz said he told them that it takes resources and expert advice to produce a plan and that wouldn't be something the public should pay for.
"The plan itself should look at the best fitting use for the land," Duntz said. "It's a tragedy what has happened to the land. The goal is to look if something can be salvaged or remedied. But when you look at what has already been subdivided, you realize that there are limits to what can be done. The areas where you could have [a higher density and] community amenities are on the west side and the southwest side. The rest of the land has major limitations. It has good prospects for park and recreation but for further residential development, the potential is limited." In his conversation with the CRC owners, Duntz says he suggested they ask planning consultant Paul Fenske to see if there was potential to look at the land use again. Duntz added that CRC, as it is now, is seen as a black mark on Bowen Island's history. He credits Fenske with the ability to "come up with something inspiring enough to make it worth proceeding."