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Gospel Rock draft plans emerge

After almost a year of work by the Gospel Rock Refinement Working Committee, an image of how the contentious Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan may look is starting to emerge.

After almost a year of work by the Gospel Rock Refinement Working Committee, an image of how the contentious Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan may look is starting to emerge.

Town of Gibsons director of planning Chris Marshall presented two rough design options to the committee at its Thursday, Feb. 18, meeting.

Gibsons mayor and committee chair Barry Janyk said the rough options were borne out of a compromise between previous plans for the neighbourhood that hit a deadlock between property owners and the public. He emphasized that any potential plans will still come forward for public review.

"What we're trying to do is find a compromise that might work for the community. I don't know if that's possible, but we're going to try to do the best we can to give some alternatives to the public and see what they say," he said.

The rough options differ from the previous ones put forward by the Gospel Rock Select Committee in several ways, but the core "planning goals and objectives" from that committee are intact, Marshall said.

Both new options feature some residential development that shoulders a long park area along the waterfront on Gower Point Road. Marshall said, while this was unpopular with some residents who attended the meeting, property owners feel it may be necessary to help cover the cost of installing new infrastructure for the rest of the neighbourhood.

"The reason this process died the last time was because the property owners said, without some waterfront development, the whole thing wasn't viable," Marshall said. "To start a process where your starting point is a no-go for one of the main participants didn't seem like the right thing to do."

Marshall emphasized the plans, as they appear right now, are by no means final and are subject to changes after public review.

The main difference and biggest challenge to manoeuvre between the two draft options is connecting the neighbourhood to the rest of Gibsons, Marshall said.

"Access is really one of the main problems that's really the Achilles heel of this site," he said.

Option one connects Gospel Rock to the north at Inglis Road, and crosses several private properties, which may be difficult to get a right-of-way for. Option two connects the neighbourhood to Gower Point Road at Franklin Road, which Marshall and Janyk said is facing opposition from Franklin Road residents who do not want increased traffic on their street. A third option, not currently in either draft plan, but still a consideration Marshall said, connects Gospel Rock to the north along an already existing right-of-way where the Mahan Trail goes though. He added all options contain plans for a new north-south trail.

Both plans feature a mix of single and multi-family residential properties, parkland and a commercial centre. New to both options is a north-south wildlife corridor stretching the length of the development.

Janyk said the next step is to review the draft options with the property owners and the select committee at an open meeting on the morning of March 29. Suggestions from that meeting will be used to revise the plans, and the Town will then schedule open house meetings for public input.

"Our intention is to have this thing buttoned up by the end of May, so we've only got a couple months to go, and I think we can do that. But these are only recommendations and we'll see what council does with them," Janyk said.