A protected area in the Chapman Creek watershed has been identified by AJB Investments as a potential location for a water storage project, a recent Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) staff report indicated.
At the July 5 infrastructure services committee, manager Bryan Shoji reported that a letter from AJB had been received in May, “requesting that the SCRD work with them to investigate the potential to develop water storage infrastructure on [land] which they currently own.”
The specific parcel is known as DL2461, a Z-shaped tract of land in the Chapman Creek watershed, around and above the SCRD water intake.
Current zoning for the parcel is RU5 — rural watershed protection.
Under RU5, land, buildings and structures are limited to outdoor recreation, education, research, habitat management, watershed protection and parkland.
The surface area of all buildings on a parcel may not exceed 100 square metres.
The land was previously held by Columbia National Investments (CNI), which performed clearcuts in the area before the parcels changed hands.
“I have no idea what they have in mind, but what they’re asking for is exploring solutions jointly rather than AJB simply putting proposals to the SCRD for their approval,” said Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar. “I don’t know what that means, but certainly changes to the uses would require a rezoning process.”
In 2007, a source development study carried out by Dayton & Knight Associates led the board to request a look at options relating to water storage and the long-term water needs of the region.
According to the report, “it is currently projected that the raw water storage capacity will need upgrading by 2020.”
In a letter to the SCRD board dated May 14, Mark Rogers, managing director of AJB Investments, stressed his company’s “desire to be responsible owners of our lands.
“We understand the SCRD needs to consider additional storage options in the Chapman watershed,” he wrote. “AJB Investments would like to discuss entering into discussions where our two groups can find opportunities that achieve the objectives of both.”
He argued that the company’s efforts to improve the land reiterated AJB’s desire to be worthy tenants.
As evidence he included bridge repairs on Port Mellon lands, burning of debris left by CNI and other cleanup efforts, as well as participation in the source assessment response plan process.
“I would welcome the opportunity to meet with [the board] and staff to discuss this opportunity,” Rogers wrote.
West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull agreed with Shugar’s assessment that AJB’s desire to work “jointly” with the SCRD remained somewhat vague.
The two directors expressed a degree of caution regarding the letter. Turnbull mused about the possibility of using Crown land for water storage.
“I’m not sure why we would choose to put it there,” she commented. “A joint partnership probably would imply that we would be paying for the use of their land if we were to get into the storage.”
With the discussion bordering on negotiations, the board opted to continue it later, holding off on a motion to go in-camera.