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Halfmoon Bay groups say communication lacking on Bayview Hills development

Over three months since their original complaint and after two follow-ups, two Halfmoon Bay-based groups 'disappointed' with local government regarding the proposed Bayview Hills development.
SCRD Officers on Field Road.

Over three months since their original complaint and after two follow-ups, two Halfmoon Bay-based groups are “disappointed” with local government regarding the proposed Bayview Hills development. Concerns for area residents about tree cutting, potential disruption to Kitchin Creek and the status of permits for the development began to surface about a year ago. 

The Halfmoon Bay Environmental Society and the area’s community association raised concerns in writing to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) on March 31. They asked that legal action be taken “to stop land development on District Lot 1427 (the proposed Bayview site) until regulations are adhered to.” Follow-up inquiries were submitted in May. 

SCRD hasn't communicated

While the groups' spokespersons say they understand that legal procedures require time to be investigated and processed, the lack of communication from the SCRD is an added concern. Representatives Linda McMahon and Mary Beth Knechtel told Coast Reporter via email on July 5, “The SCRD should be able to inform the community if they have taken actions to halt activity on the Bayview Hills site, what steps have been taken, and the timeline attached to any order to halt activity. They should also be able to inform us on the general time frame within which the SCRD expects to conclude its investigation and report back to the community.”

A statement from SCRD communications manager Aidan Buckley said that the property owner has made a development permit application with the SCRD in relation to assessment and protection of creek corridors and riparian habitat surrounding Kitchen Creek.

“Staff are working with the property owner to ensure that all development permit area requirements are met...bylaw enforcement investigation is continuing at this time and involves several aspects of land development. To ensure the integrity of this investigation, no further information is available at this time.” Buckley wrote. He did not provide details on a timeline for review of that application, communication with the concerned groups or legal proceedings related to the situation. On April 6, the SCRD confirmed that the developer, Alister Toma has applied for a 26-lot phased subdivision off of Redrooffs Road, near the area of Coopers Green Park.

Responses from other authorities 

McMahon and Knechtel reported they have heard back from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) after writing to them in late April. The response received said the Ministry is working to address the effect of the developer’s removal of the trees on its lot on MOTI infrastructure. The response letter also stated “It is important to note that the Ministry cannot address bylaw or regulatory breaches outside the scope of its jurisdiction.  Some of the items you raise (tree cutting/felling on the private lands) should be directed to the SCRD.”  

In their email, the two community group reps noted that a Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Fisheries Officer met with Knechtel, president of the Halfmoon Bay Environmental Society regarding the DFO investigation into Bayview Hills.

“During a site visit on May 19, DFO determined that Kitchin Creek is a fish habitat and recommended work be halted until DFO biologists investigate further and decide on appropriate remediation or penalties,” the two wrote.

“We would now like the SCRD Board and staff to up its game in terms of meaningful and timely communication with the community. This would be a small but important step to address growing cynicism about how our governments serve the public. On the Bayview Hills fiasco, significant damage occurred, and was ongoing, for over eight months before any level of government appeared to respond to the widespread community complaints. We would like a concrete response from the SCRD on the overall remediation plan and timeline. And it would be good if this response covered all levels of action, in the interest of keeping the public informed.”

Coast Reporter reached out to the Bayview Hills development for comment but did not receive a response before time of publication.