Dozens of curious residents attended Couverdon’s open house July 26 to find out more about the company’s plans to extend the town’s borders to accommodate a 270 hectare development over the next 25 years.
Couverdon, the real estate division of Timberwest, who owns the property, says they are taking a principled approach to develop the property and is looking for a strong partnership with the residents of Ladysmith, council and local First Nations.
“We’re open, we’re interested, we want to make Ladysmith really proud of this project and we’re going to work really hard to engage the community to do that,” said Bev Park, Couverdon’s president and COO.
Meeting attendees browsed through a number of information boards, which outlined Couverdon’s mission, Ladysmith’s demographics and sustainable community vision, their principles for development and project timeline.
In addition to community partnerships, Couverdon’s seven principled approach includes enhancing economic development through partnerships with prominent Island institutions, preserving local heritage, integrating green spaces and green practices and reducing the carbon footprint.
“What’s of interest is the environmental and social approach we’ve taken to looking at the developable areas,” Park said.
Diane Bianchini said she thinks a boundary extension and development will be positive for the community.
“Ladysmith has expanded three times since it was incorporated, so I don’t see a real change in that respect,” she said. “The developer is obviously saying all the right things, like the watershed will come up for negotiation, which is important to us.”
Bianchini is hopeful that the township will negotiate a fair return while in talks with Couverdon.
The proposed development is in the northwest section of the town, and has expanded to 270 hectares.
“The town asked us to consider whether we would include, in our boundary expansion area, a piece that would connect to Malone Road, and so in order to do that, we had to expand the extension area,” Park explained.
The development could accommodate as many as 2,500 new residents, however that will be up for discussion in the next few months as Couverdon works through the consultation process.
“I think one of the things that we see is it gives the town some flexibility in thinking about growth. They might be able to look at waterfront development a little differently if this is part of the growth area,” Park said.
Frank Limshue, director of planning, said it is important for people to remember that the project is not going to be developed overnight.
“We’re talking a few years of discussions with all the various parties to get to the point where we can actually do something,” he said.
After reporting back to council, Couverdon will implement Phase 2 in the fall; background research and technical studies including environment, archaeological assessment, forest management strategies, transportation, market opportunities and site servicing.
Phase 2 will also include a series of open houses and feedback sessions as the company provides the results from the studies and develops land use concept plans.
By spring of 2012, Couverdon plans to bring their boundary extension application to the Province of B.C.
“They’re really looking for the community to be supportive of it and they’ll look at local support as a key determinant in their decision making,” Park said.
Peter Richmond said he was pleased with the approach Couverdon is taking.
“I’m excited,” he said. “A growing community is a healthy community.”
Dave Ehrismann was equally interested in the process. “It’s important to have input and consultation with the communities they’re going to affect,” he said.
Dan Spence said he would like to wait for more information from the company before forming a positive or negative opinion on the matter.
“I’ve got a house for sale that’s been on the market a year and hasn’t sold, so how they’re going to sell 2,500, I don’t know,” he said.
Couverdon has also launched an interactive website to gather as much information about local residents and their vision for the town.
Users can pinpoint which areas of the town they utilize as well as leave comments.
Visit www.ladysmithopenhouse.ca to have your say.