Developers responsible for destroying sensitive wetlands off Jubilee Parkway say they are prepared to immediately provide compensation for what they ruined.
Dan Samson and George Stuart, both with Parkway Properties Joint Venture, told council at its Monday night meeting that they are prepared to compensate “for any ecological loss of values that may have occurred” when the wetlands were altered.
The damage was done over a six year period, starting in 2006, as developers dumped soil over the area while developing a subdivision on the opposite, northern side of Jubilee Parkway.
Samson said the area was cleared in order to make way for the extension of Willow Creek Road all the way across Jubilee Parkway to the site in question in order to facilitate development.
“We removed what we now know was a fen (depressions that contain organic soils and peat deposits) but at the time we considered just another area pocket of glacial till near the surface that would not drain,” Samson said.
He added that the work was done “at a time when this type of ‘polygon’ (non fish habitat) was not as regulated as it is today.”
Nonetheless, after a citizen’s complaint in 2014, the city investigated, discovered the damaged fen and the altered hydrology of the area, and slapped Parkway with a remedial action notice, requesting the developers fix what they destroyed.
Since then, McElhanney consulting has prepared two reports for the city with options that range from rehabilitation of the entire 2.2 hectare area, to a portion (0.52 hectares), with the developers adding some form of compensation to make up for the remaining 1.9 hectares.
In July, McElhanney submitted a report to the city saying that after consulting with several leading academic subject-area experts, that it appeared feasible that the entire 2.2 hectares could be remediated but that it could take 12 to 13 years.
At Monday’s council meeting, Samson said he believes that option “is not in the best interests of the citizens of Campbell River or the environment.”
Samson said he and his team of developers do not believe the area can be remediated as all non-structural material has been removed.
Samson said he is also concerned about investing significant time and money into something that he believes has no guarantee of working.
“The research on building fen wetlands indicates that the success rate is low,” Samson said.
“We believe the best solution is to leave the site as is, protect the remaining fen to the south and have us provide any compensation for any ecological loss.”
Samson presented two options to council for consideration.
The first would remediate 0.5 hectares using the peat onsite and include compensation in the form of roughly eight acres of 50-plus-year-old forested lands to the west of the fen site off of Jubilee Parkway. Samson said the lands could be used for public nature trails and other recreational uses.
The second option proposed is $350,000 cash to initiate a new reserve fund for other environmental projects. Samson said that amount is what Parkway estimates is the cost of removing the material that was placed in the affected area.
After hearing the presentation, Mayor Andy Adams thanked Samson for coming to speak to council and said council would take the time to mull over the options.
“The options, as you can probably appreciate, we’ll have to go over with staff and they’ll report back and we’ll be in touch as we work mutually to try and resolve this issue which has been outstanding for quite some time,” Adams said.
Samson said Parkway is open to additional meetings with both city council and staff to try and come up with a solution all parties can agree with.
Kristen Douglas/Campbell River Mirror
Parkway Properties is offering this forested land to the west of the damaged Jubilee wetlands as a form of compensation for what the developers believe cannot be remediated.