A war of printed words is heating up in Colwood, centred around a proposed residential and commercial development that would border Havenwood Park on both sides of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.
The application for the third phase of Wishart Gardens, which as it stands would require an official community plan (OCP) amendment and rezoning, is being assessed by city staff. It has yet to reach the committee of the whole, the first opportunity for city council to discuss the development.
On more than one occasion, B.C.-Alta Developments has been ordered by the city to take down signs showing the project in a positive light. City bylaws prohibit placement of signs on vacant land or parkland, but basic signs outlining a development proposal go up on the subject property when an application is submitted to the city.
|A protest banner hangs from a Colwood resident's fence. (Courtesy Kim Jordison)
While the Gazette has received conflicting reports about who removed the illegal signage, city spokesperson Sandra Russell confirmed that B.C.-Alta would be billed if city staff time was involved.
Recently, banners opposing the development went up at private residences nearby, a move organized by residents behind an online petition. While the banners do not run afoul of the bylaw, placards featuring the original petition that remained in the park near the main stairway on Wednesday (Feb. 17) are considered illegal, Russell said.
Colwood development services staff have been in contact with residents in an attempt to have those removed, she added.
G.S. Saroya, B.C.-Alta’s senior operations manager, said the company put up its signs to “clear up misinformation” contained in opposition materials about certain elements of the development and its relation to the park.
“There were small things going around social media and we wanted to clear this up,” he said, insisting company signs were only placed on private property.
He also said park users may not be aware of the location of Havenwood’s boundary with the private property, noting people frequently cut through. While signs are not permitted, he said the company may consider somehow indicating the property line.
Russell said the city continues to monitor the situation and appreciates when residents provide feedback about the presence of signs, no matter who is putting them up.
“We know people are passionate about this issue, which is a positive when people are engaged and learning about the OCP,” she said.