RURAL DEVELOPMENT GROWTH AND URBAN CONTAINMENT BOUNDARIES
According to BC Climate Action: “ An Urban (and Growth) Containment Boundary (UBC and GCB) sets aside land to be protected from most forms of development. Usually an “UCB” will delineate the edge of town and the beginning of rural areas.”
Land consuming sprawling development is recognized as a major municipal challenge with a range of social and environmental costs. The negative impact has been widely published. However, when the land is zoned and taxed for residential use, sustainability is not enhanced by its reckless over-allocation to individual large lots, it is expensive and contributes to significant development pressure on agricultural and forest land. Many scholarly articles have been written on the subject and there is unanimity among environmentalists and urban planners that effective land use for residential construction within the defined GCB and UBC should be a key objective for every municipality.
Lantzville Growth and Urban Containment Boundary (UCB & GCB)
Lantzville’s historians could clarify how Lantzville’s Growth and Urban Containment Boundary came about and how the Ware, and Superior Road properties were placed within the growth and development area. These historic zoning decisions had financial benefits for the District, but also laid the foundation for future development. The clear-cut properties have been zoned and taxed as residential for at least 20 years and at some point the District planned and anticipated development. Undoubtedly the recent increased land values, some well over 30%, have played a role to recover money. I understand the annual tax bill is well above $50,000.
Given these pressures, Lantzville may have been surprised, or worse, overwhelmed by the recent logging activities, but I consider it the result of a lack of foresight and failure to communicate or negotiate. The year-long OCP process and ignoring of the land owners’ input has not enhanced the process. The District has spent well over $200,000 on two OCP.s and by all appearances the objectives are still only perceived by looking through the wrong end of a telescope. Arguably both fail to recognize land values, development costs and the need for sustainability. Large lots create private green spaces and have good eye value but do little for the community‘s desire for a larger choice of housing. The latest proposal for Ware road clearly shows a disconnect between our new OCP and the land owners. Their submission for some 90 or so ½ acre lots and 5% green spaces meets the requirements of our zoning bylaw, but does nothing for Lantzville. In fact, this Lower Lantzville development proposal is an incentive to market most of Lower Lantzville’s remaining residentially-zoned land to the highest bidder. The end result will be nothing less than North Nanaimo on a grand scale. No affordable housing, no seniors’ housing, no sport fields; All indications suggest the District will salvage a 2.5 acre postage stamp sized park. The draft OCP has not met its objectives and requires our elected councils to make modifications or better inject more flexibility and see what the developer brings to the table. It should not be considered a capitulation to the development but rather a process of picking up the pieces; to make this OCP realistic and workable for both the landowners and the community. I consider this Council’s responsibility, not a privilege, as some OCP committee members suggest. More importantly the socio-economics of this proposal lay the foundation for a division between Lantzville’s middle-income residents and what will be a rich neighborhood. The idealism expressed by some will only lead to fractured green spaces a la Sebastian Park, which is expensive and unrealistic in the current market. The perceived standoff between the landowners and the District is neither constructive nor in the interest of this community’s future development. So far the District has paid a heavy price. The Mayor has been at arms-length. It is past time for Council, staff and legal consultants to meet with the owners to salvage what could be and work towards some mutually acceptable outcome that aligns with the OCP but also respects landowner’s input.
For the record, I have no financial interests in any Real Estate or Development projects.
Jack de Jong