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Bamberton manager faces public over rezoning proposal

Jan 25 2012

About 200 people braved rain and fog Tuesday night to let Cowichan Valley regional directors know their feelings about a proposed rezoning of Bamberton land to create more light industrial space for the region.

Questions at the public hearing ranged from concerns about increased traffic on the Malahat to why a size limit had been put on the size of some of the business uses (to keep big box stores out.)

The Cowichan Valley Regional District board will make a decision on the rezoning at a later board meeting. A date for the meeting has yet to be set.

Bamberton Properties wants to rezone about

140 hectares of the

632-hectare property that overlooks the Saanich Inlet, north of the Malahat.

Rezoning would allow expansion of an industrial park, already operating on the east side of the site, and allow the creation of a forestry and recreation zone, which could be used for ziplining.

On the west side of the land, near the Bamberton interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway, the company plans an industrial park and more light industrial.

Most of the land in question is located where the former Bamberton industrial cement quarry was situated, so has already been logged, said Bamberton Properties development manager Ross Tennant. The quarry was in operation for 80 years and would have celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

The Bamberton property has been the subject of debates, reviews, dreams and plans for more than 20 years. In the 1990s, ambitious plans by another developer to create a town of 12,000 people failed.

Bamberton Properties bought the land in 2005 and also had plans for a live-work-play community with 3,200 homes.

But the CVRD told the company that the region needs jobs and industry, rather than more homes.

The landowners said they still hope to see the land become its own small town, but that is "years, if not decades, in the future," Tennant said.

Asked what the company would do if the rezoning application fails, Tennant said it would likely have to revert to the uses the current zoning allows — forestry and mining.

But it is not something the company wants to do, Tennant said, to much clapping from the crowd.

"It makes no sense in the world for a site that is so visibly beautiful on the shores of the Saanich Inlet to be a forestry site," Tennant said.

"It makes of lot of sense to preserve and protect that, and use that brownfield [land already logged] area as the area for generating employment and/or future residential opportunities. We're saying, please let us do something different with the site. What is allowed is unpalatable to us and we want to do something for the community instead."

Twelve hectares at McCurdy Point would be donated for park use. That land is only accessible by water. A protective covenant would also be placed on about another

109 hectares.

If approved, about 37,161 square metres of commercial and industrial space would be developed.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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