Mayor pitches 11th-hour Echo Heights compromise

Proposal bumps parkland total from 80% to 90%, reduces return by $1.5 million

Mayor Jon Lefebure expects hot debate among councillors tomorrow about his 11th-hour proposal to save 91% of Echo Heights forest as parkland.

That compares to a plan currently awaiting approval that would preserve 80% of the publicly owned forest the Chemainus Residents Association and some  First Nations folks want entirely set aside.

Their stance has divided development- and conservation-minded councillors and taxpayers — and Lefebure realized his plan is a compromise that won’t make everyone happy.

“I was looking for a proposal that respected all interests. I feel everyone can feel they’re a winner with this 91% plan.”

His vision would see council sell 17 already-zoned 10,000-square-foot single-family lots at about $150,000 each to developers. Sales would reap close to $2 million for municipal programs and projects.

That take compares to  the existing plan of marketing 40-odd lots, of mixed zonings, for a gain of about $3.5 million, if council rezoned and sold 20% of the 52-acre forest.

Lefebure’s 91% plan would see many notable trees saved, while council created green-design guidelines — from solar power to water catchment — for homes built on 9% of the forest’s land already logged.

Zoning rulings can be changed, given public hearings and other processes, Lefebure explained, but parkland designation would be tough to overturn by future councils.

“You need 2/3 of council support on final reading, and it can’t be reversed without public approval,” Lefebure.

Public meetings pending on the 80% proposal could change based on the reception on the mayor’s new proposal.