Couverdon’s aspirations to have 283 hectares of privately owned TimberWest forest lands incorporated into the Town of Ladysmith is behind schedule, but not by much.
Speaking to a crowd of 50 Area H residents at the North Oyster Community Centre Thursday, Oct. 3, Frank Limshue, Couverdon’s director of planning and zoning, explained that he had hoped to file an official application with the Town of Ladysmith over the summer, but that filing has been delayed due, in part, to consultations with the Stz’uminus First Nation.
Limshue hoped to file an application with the town shortly, he added.
Provided the Town approves their application — a likely outcome considering Ladysmith will receive 180 hectares of TimberWest lands surrounding Holland and Stocking lakes in exchange for incorporation — Couverdon’s plan will then be subject to provincial approval.
According to Limshue, the provincial approval process would run through until mid 2014 followed by a two year span during which Ladysmith would be required to amend its Official Community Plan and rezone the land in question.
Couverdon would then foot the bill to build roads, install services and subdivide lots in preparation for the sale of parcels beginning in early 2017.
North Oyster and Diamond residents expressed their discontent over Couverdon’s plans at Thursday night’s meeting, but their legal options remain limited.
Under current provincial regulations, jurisdictions losing privately owned land to neighbouring districts have no say in the matter, a rule Area H residents hope to change.
Bob Smits, chair of the North Oyster-Diamond Ratepayers Association, said that may change in the near future. A motion was passed at the 2013 Union of BC Municipalities convention — hosted in Vancouver mid September — that, if adopted by the provincial legislature, would force regulators to take into account the OCP of any district slated to lose a given parcel of land as the result of a change of incorporation.
Until that happens, though, the residents of North Oyster and the Diamond will have no say in whether or not Ladysmith chooses to approve Couverdon’s application.
Also of concern to many present at Thursday night’s meeting were the long-term prospects for Holland and Stocking lakes, Ladysmith’s drinking water reservoirs.
Mayor Rob Hutchins referenced a study that indicated Ladysmith’s reservoirs would be capable of supplying water to a population of 18,000 people — Ladysmith’s current population is estimated at 8,328 — but some questioned whether or not Holland and Stocking lakes would be able to deliver similar flows in the decades to come, expressing concerns that Ladysmith would tap into the Cassidy Aquifer if they were to find themselves in short supply as a result of climate change.
Regarding the impacts of climate change on precipitation levels in the Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley regional districts, Trevor Murdock, an expert on regional climate impacts at the University of Victoria, wrote that “the median precipitation change projected for the 2041-70 period is a five-per-cent increase in winter (with a range of negative-four per cent to plus-15 per cent) and an 18-per-cent decrease in summer (ranging from minus-28 per cent to plus-one per cent).”
“This doesn’t really tell us about changes to year-to-year variability and resulting streamflow, both of which would ideally also be considered for water supply planning, and both of which would require some in depth regional analysis to assess,” Murdock added. “[That] hasn’t been done for the area yet.”
For more on Couverdon’s planned expansion, click here.