Kensington Island Properties made the distinction between Development Cost Charges and the costs of upgrading our water system.
Why are we now being told they are basically the same?
Olive branch offered as Kensington and CSRD seek talks
BY COMOX VALLEY ECHO OCTOBER 25, 2006
Positive signs were emerging last night that Kensington Island Properties and Comox Strathcona Regional District may be ready to back off further confrontation and try to resolve outstanding issues affecting the proposed 845-acre Union Bay development.
Company vice president Brian McMahon admitted he was “a little surprised” that the outcome of the incorporation referendum was a ‘No’ vote.
“I thought $20 million in Development Cost Charges dollars going directly in to the community rather than being shared with places as far away as Oyster River and Cortes Island would have been quite appealing. But it is the will of the people to stay with the regional district, so it’s ‘business as usual.’
“We have dealt with the regional district in the past and we will continue to do so.”
He said that Kensington had submitted its proposed development agreement to the regional district in August and was still awaiting a response.
The sooner a fourth and final reading of the by-law was tabled, the sooner they could get started on the project. “The ball is very much in the regional district’s court” he commented.
Pressed about allegedly conflicting messages about water supplies given out during the last week of the campaign by Kensington, McMahon said he understood the interest of both the regional district and the Village of Cumberland in seeing the Van Lakes regional water project proceed.
It was surely reasonable, he said, that Kensington’s consultants should be in the driving seat of the necessary studies as it would be his company paying for the work. But to avoid any doubt, he wanted to make it clear that the regional district and Cumberland should not only sit in on meetings but participate in the study.
But as he had said during the campaign, his consultants had not been given permission to go on the land in the watershed or see the earlier specialist reports.
Drawing a comparison, he said: “I am not going to buy a used car for X dollars without seeing it and inspecting it,” he said. That is why he had halted further work at the time.
Suggestions that the water supply might end up being privatized if Kensington’s team led on the study were wrong, he said. The only ownership they were seeking was of the study itself – and as they would be paying for it, he thought that was fair.
“We have enlisted the best consultants – now let’s get on with it,” he added.
Even if Van Lakes turns out to be the ideal solution, it will be five to seven years before the infrastructure could be in place and the water flowing.
So in the meantime he sees Langley Lake as an interim water supply option. “Surely that’s reasonable,” he told the Echo.
He added that Kensington has included in its proposed development agreement a provision that Langley Lake will be an interim source of water, and a back-up in case of emergencies, and nothing more.
McMahon also drew attention to other huge developments slated in the immediate area, such as the Trilogy Project and Sage Hills.
He considered it would be fairer if funding for building a major regional water supply scheme, potentially supplying tens of thousands of people, was a joint effort rather than all falling on one company’s shoulders. But he stressed he is happy to pay for and lead on the study into the practical possibilities.
Offering a clear olive branch, he agreed with a suggestion made in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result that it would be a great idea if all those affected were to sit down with a pot of coffee and talk things through to get the project on the move.
“We’re ready for that – sooner the better,” he said. “We’ve been at this thing for ten years now, and working on this particular application for six years. It’s long past due. It’s gone on for so long. We want the best for Union Bay – we’ve made that clear. Let’s talk soon and let’s have a decision.”
For the regional district, its general manager of operational services, Graeme Faris, seemed to accept the olive branch by agreeing that people needed to come together to resolve outstanding issues.
Perhaps around that pot of coffee?
“I assume that will happen. We are all interested in the same patch of land, and we all want to ensure the community has the right infrastructure for the future.
“We will probably all be looking at our calendars and seeing where we go from here. Nothing will be gained by not talking.”
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