Quinsam’s rural values overrule development

Councillors aired their concerns with the city’s new community plan

City councillors had to weigh community values over community growth at a special council meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Councillors aired their concerns with the city’s new community plan, in particular the rural Quinsam Heights neighbourhood, near Evergreen and Petersen roads.

The area is mostly zoned Residential Estate – which permits single family homes on large lots, but some lots on the north side of Pinecrest Road are zoned RM-1, a low density infill that permits single family homes on smaller lots.

The city’s new Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP) calls for Quinsam Heights to have similar zoning throughout and be maintained as a rural neighbourhood.

The plan acknowledges that the large rural lots have recently been targeted for small and medium lot subdivisions but notes those are not consistent with the established character of the neighbourhood, which includes hobby farms and equestrian uses.

The plan goes on to say the neighbourhood is “destined for little to no major development changes and not intended as a primary growth area for the city.”

The plan was created out of an intensive, 18-month process with public involvement through workshops, meetings and open houses. Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, said the Sustainable Community Plan committee heard loud and clear that residents of Quinsam Heights want to maintain the integrity of their neighbourhoood.

“What we heard from the broader community is that the values of a rural neighbourhood for Quinsam Heights overruled development,” Blackwell said.

Coun. Claire Moglove affirmed the consensus was to keep the integrity of the rural area.

“At the committee meeting they said this is the only area in Campbell River that has a rural flavour and if we change that, we’ve lost it forever,” Moglove said.

But Coun. Andy Adams said the city has already moved towards development.

“I think we made that shift when we let Legacy Heights (subdivision) go in there in the first place,” Adams said. He also said the two blocks along Pinecrest Road that are zoned estate don’t make sense because they’re not connected, and are squeezed in with residential lots.

“Why not a continuous strip that would fit into the plan’s goals of walkability, cycling routes, and compact growth?” Adams said.“Those two blocks (on Pinecrest) were included in infill for potential growth.”

Adams made a motion to change the zoning of the two Pinecrest blocks to make it more “linear” but the motion was defeated by councillors Moglove, Ron Kerr, Mary Storry and Mayor Walter Jakeway. Other minor tweaks council wants to make to the community plan will be made after the plan goes to public hearing on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. and before third reading.

The Sustainable Community Plan took 18 months to draft and the process included consultations with youth, community stakeholders, the general public, school district and First Nations. The document sets out policy guides for city council and sets the vision and direction of the city for the next 50 years.