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Phase two report released

The Gospel Rock select committee has decided more work needs to be done on the Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan before making a recommendation to council.

The Gospel Rock select committee has decided more work needs to be done on the Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan before making a recommendation to council.

The phase two report was completed by the consultant team following an open house in Gibsons May 30. This report was made public on June 11. The report was the focus of discussion at the latest select committee meeting held on June 15.

"There was generally positive comment from the committee towards the report and the new plan that was included," said Vince Verlaan, from Wellspring Facilitation and Planning Inc. "Overall the rationale and trade-offs presented by the consultant team were clear and acceptable."

Verlaan said later in the meeting, however, there were a number of issues that were raised, which were not resolved before the meeting concluded.

The issues included: trails, development pattern, road access points, density options and locations, ecological issues and appearance, fairness in costs and benefits to landowners, possibility of waterfront homes, possible realignment of Gower Point Road and visual appeal/tourism/cultural.

"Some issues and concerns also demanded further economic analysis so issues of costs and benefits could be better understood," Verlaan said. "We thus agreed that the consultants would do some further analysis on these issues and would send this to the select committee members during July."

A further or extra meeting of the committee was also agreed to (tentatively slated for the first week in August).

Verlaan said he expects after that meeting the committee would move a recommended plan forward to Gibsons council. That would allow the consultants to start phase three of the overall project plan where a plan is developed to a high degree of detail.

The recommended plan, which is contained in the phase two report, was based on the consulting team's evaluations, the public feedback at the May 30 open house and landowner comments. The four options were further refined down to one option encompassing the best and most technically feasible elements from options B, C, D and E (presented at the open house).

According to the phase two report, the preferred plan attempts to address a neighbourhood heart with a small-scale commercial outlet and location for an arts/cultural centre or community facility; clustering of higher density residential development around the existing roads and proposed heart of the community to preserve green space/trees, support neighbourhood commercial/institutional uses, improve access to nearest transit stops and reduce trip lengths; a dense network of trails; inclusion of a stormwater management pond; creating a variety of housing forms; creating high value, single-detached residential lots; utilizing the existing road network; reducing the number of road access points to two; preserving a green corridor; a pedestrian bridge connection; and waterfront lots.

"The preferred plan addressed many of the comments and criticisms raised by the various stakeholder groups, and in our opinion, provides for a balance between landowner fairness and the public interest," says the explanation in the report for why this option was selected.

In November 2005, a team of consultants led by Holland Barrs Planning Group was engaged by the Town of Gibsons to develop a neighbourhood plan for the Gospel Rock Area.

Gospel Rock is 124 acres of privately owned land, in 11 different legal parcels. The land is currently zoned R3 (single detached and duplex residential) and R4 (large lot single detached residential). The area is highly valued by the community, and some of the area has been used informally by the community for trails, open space, nature appreciation and access to great views.

The plan must reflect and build upon the recently adopted official community plan. To be successful, the plan must be grounded both in a sustainability philosophy and in Smart Growth principles.

More information on the process as well as the phase two report and full documentation is available at municipal hall, the Gibsons Library or on the website: