Chemainus and area residents got a chance to look over a revised development proposal for the Artisan Village project at a Sept. 15 open house.
Developer Chris Clement, has had an interest in the 13.5 hectare site, which fronts mostly on Chemainus Road between Elm St. to the east and Chapman Road to the west, since 2007.
North Cowichan Council approved a 428 unit, $80 million strata-housing project on the site in January, 2011.
Then the project was expected to get underway in the spring of 2012, with an 80-unit development as the first phase.
But to date shovels have not turned any sod, and before they do, Clement is hoping to get a revised plan approved by North Cowichan council.
One of the requested changes to the proposal is to allow about 35 single family, fee simple lots in the Chapman Road portion of the overall development plan.
“Right now it’s zoned for strata development,” Clement said during the open house. “The new one is to allow for roughly 35 single family lots.” There would still be 12 strata units ‘at the end’ of the site, he said.
“Other than that, on the other side of the property, nothing at all is being changed at all for the zoning,” he added.
A trail system within the development will be ‘more natural’ and provide better access from the development to Chemainus.
The trails will be surfaced with compacted gravel and a bridge will be built across Askew Creek, which cuts through the property
“So people can walk from the Chapman Road side, all the way to downtown Chemainus, via the trail,” Clement said.
As in the original proposal, what is known as ‘the Hermit Trail’ will be preserved.
“We’ll have a company hired to come in and do a report on North Cowichan’s behalf, because at the end of the day, they are going to be the ones that own it,” Clement said.
The report will consider safety issues around use of the trail so that it can be brought “to a standard, when North Cowichan takes it over, that they’re happy with.”
Added Clement, “We’re going to keep the ambiance and the natural beauty of the Hermit Trail.” Consideration is being given to bringing a paved access to the trail behind one of the bordering strata developments to provide wheelchair access.
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Clement said this round of zoning and development bylaw approvals is ‘going through the process’ and that it’s difficult to say how long that might take.
He said plans would be submitted to the North Cowichan Municipality late this year and that approval could come in the beginning of 2016.
“So we could maybe see some earthwork being done, possibly by the summer of next year,” he said.
Clement said the project will be ‘long term’ and ‘market driven.’ The Chapman road development could take three to four years, “and I could hope to be on the other side of the property in four years,” he said.
The plan is flexible, but the east portion of the site will see a mixed development. “I see a lot of townhouses, and some condos, there might be some assisted living for seniors, as per the original document,” he said.
Predicting how many units will be built during the life of the project is difficult, Clement said, but he guessed about 250 units would be a likely figure.
Rental and affordable housing are still being considered as part of the mix.