Chris Clement is adamant the famed Chemainus Hermit Trails will be retained amid recent construction activity in the vicinity.
‘Private Property – No Trespassing’ signs went up at trail entrance points last week, fuelling speculation on social media the trails would be destroyed. Not true, said the owner of Chris Clement Construction and the owner of the property where the trails are situated.
“The Hermit Trail itself is all going to be saved,” he said. “Some of the trails – not the Hermit trails – are going to be rerouted.
“By all means there will be no damage to the Hermit trails,” Clement stressed. “They are very important to me.”
He’s recently sponsored a book by local author Craig Spence revolving around the trails.
Some may argue the ambience is lost, but the trails are still there.
Facebook lit up again on the weekend with incorrect information from people expressing their horror over the destruction of the trails, constructed meticulously by Charlie Abbott over many years while living alone in the forest. After designing an incredible network of flower beds, walled pathways and secluded corners, Abbott died in 1989 at the age of 87.
Rob Conway, North Cowichan’s director of planning and building, said the municipality has also been inundated with emails about the trails.
The thing most people don’t know is the trails have always been on private property. Clement purchased the property as part of his Artisan Village development about 13 years ago and rezoning of the property happened in January of 2011.
“Nothing’s changed,” said Clement.
“When it was rezoned, he made commitments to dedicating 30 metres on either side of Askew Creek and additional land that includes the Hermit Trails,” said Conway. “That area will be transferred to the municipality and made available for public use when lands on the east side of Askew Creek are developed.”
Clement purchased the Askew Creek Drive development from Brian Berglund at the beginning of the year. The work being done now is to service the new lots being developed in the subdivision.
“I just cleared the space where the storm and sewer need to go down to my property on my own land,” said Clement.
“There is a Comprehensive Development Plan for the Artisan’s Village property that, among other things, requires that the Askew Creek riparian area and the Hermit Trails be maintained and protected,” added Conway. “We are working with the developer to ensure there is no encroachment into the future park area.”
“This development (Askew Creek) isn’t on the Artisan’s Village property, but it is adjacent to it and the road that will be built as part of the subdivision will provide access to the Artisan’s Village property from the south.”
Eventually, a road will go from the end of the subdivision on Askew Creek Drive through the Artisan’s Village property, connecting Elm Street to River Road.
In the meantime, the ‘Private Property’ signs have been erected as a safety measure while construction activity is taking place, closing off the Hermit Trails temporarily.
Clement is continuing with his long-range plans for the entire property.
“There’s going to be a lot going on in that area the next little while,” he said.
That includes plans for townhouses and a condominium building in the area directly behind the giant Artisan’s Village gateway.