Islanders demonstrated their interest in the Ganges harbourwalk project on Saturday by not only filling Lions Hall but spilling out the door at an Islands Trust-sponsored “community visioning meeting.”
The event was designed to determine what kind of development people feel is appropriate on lands located above the seaside boardwalk structure partially built more than 25 years ago. Salt Spring’s Local Trust Committee and the Capital Regional District have determined upgrading and completion of the boardwalk/harbourwalk cannot be undertaken without permission from upland property owners and are willing to negotiate with them in order to move the project forward.
But it was quickly apparent that the priority for most meeting attendees was letting the Trust know completing the long-dormant project was not worth accepting out-of-scale development in Ganges Harbour.
“This doesn’t look like Salt Spring. This doesn’t feel like Salt Spring,” said long-time resident Bill Henderson, responding to the Ganges Marina company’s suggestion for a 16,000-square-foot, three-storey building with a hotel, underground parking and other facilities on the property. “As far as I’m concerned, they are making it really easy for us to say no.”
Last year the LTC gave first reading to draft Bylaw 491, which would create a new commercial zone (C7) for four harbour properties: Slivers of land owned by the Salt Spring Farmers’ Institute and the Cudmores, with more substantial areas owned by Gulf of Georgia Land and Timber Co. (The Fishery area) and B&B Ganges Marina Ltd. (Ganges Marina). Bylaw 491 would not permit the scale of development floated by the marina owners. It would enhance and standardize current zoning, which covers a range of industrial, commercial and residential uses.
Trust planner Jason Youmans told Saturday’s meeting that the LTC was looking for “a point of departure” for negotiating with Ganges Marina and other property owners, which is why the consultation session was organized. No public hearing has been set or contemplated at this point.
“The LTC needs to know how they should move forward in this conversation,” said Youmans.
For more on this story, see the Nov. 8, 2017 issue of the Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.