Tower Point subdivision moving forward in Metchosin

Council opts for cash instead of land in Metchosin development deal

A subdivision on some of the most expensive land in Metchosin is moving forward toward the final design stage.

Richard Irwin, a consultant for the owners, the estate of Hugh and Shirley Ridley, said the hope is to start work by the end of fall in this area that features stunning ocean views and is adjacent to Tower Point Park. The plan at this time calls for seven homes on seven one-acre lots, and one home on a two-acre lot.

“We are still finalizing the design and approval process,” Irwin said.

The Friends of Tower Point had been lobbying Metchosin council since April for the District to take about a half-acre of land instead of cash from the developer, to allow for a trail that would provide a second access and circuit the park. A survey conducted by the concerned citizens’ group earlier in the year showed that the park is a popular destination for people from throughout the Capital Region.

In the end, the Friends of Tower Point found only one friend at the council table. Metchosin council voted 4-1 back on July 20 to take $200,000 in lieu of land as part of the deal for a development for the 10-acre subdivision.

Ken Farquharson, a spokesperson for the group, said supporters packed the council chambers for that meeting, with everyone speaking in favour of accepting land instead of cash. “You could see by the body language at the council table that their minds were made up,” Farquharson said. “I think the decision is one of the most short-sighted in the history of Metchosin council.”

Farquharson questioned why council would settle for $200,000 at a time when other jurisdictions, such as Vancouver and West Vancouver, are investing millions to reclaim waterfront property for the public domain.

“You can’t buy a lot in Metchosin for that amount and we lose 200 metres of waterfront. The justification they gave for the decision doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny,” he said. “I think it’s a real loss for the community at large, and a lot of other people feel that way as well.”

Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon, the only councillor to vote for taking land in lieu of cash, said he wanted to emphasize that it was a “very difficult decision.”

He said he understands why the people who showed up are disappointed, because they believed there might be a way to establish a trail, but there were too many uncertainties attached to that.

“I can understand why the others voted the way they did,” he added.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said the oceanside trail was never an option, because it would have eliminated the developer’s ability to market the land as waterfront, severely limiting its value.

“Every indication we had was that the developer wouldn’t accept that plan,” Ranns said. “They could have reconfigured it, done it in two phases and we would have gotten nothing.”

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