Land cleared for George, geotech work continues

The developer behind the proposed George Hotel and Residences on the Gibsons waterfront has demolished the last of the old buildings on the property along Gower Point Road and started some drilling work.

According to a notice from the Town, the drilling is “for the purposes of soil-testing and foundation design. All necessary permits will be in place before work begins.”

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Signs posted at the site say the work is “Phase 2 of the geotechnical survey” and warn of construction activity underway, advising the public that Winn Road may need to be closed periodically during the work.

The new activity at the site follows a request from more than 30 people that the developer, Klaus Fuerniss and George Gibsons Development Ltd., be required to post a bond for up to $20 million in case of damage to the aquifer.

“Before the Town reissues any new building permits, we insist that our new mayor and council be prudent and take the opportunity to revisit the need of requiring the developer to post a bond to shield the Town from costs if a catastrophic event should occur to our aquifer,” the letter, sent March 15 by resident Michael Storr on behalf of 34 other signatories, said.

“In order to protect the citizens and taxpayers of Gibsons we strongly recommend that a bond in the order of twenty million dollars be posted by the developer before the commencement of construction and be in place until the George project declares substantial completion.”

The letter did not appear on the public lists of council correspondence published with meeting agendas, but Mayor Bill Beamish provided a copy of his response to Coast Reporter.

Beamish’s response said he “requested that staff provide full briefing and update on the status of this project to council… Any determination by council in respect to bonding or other matters will occur after we have received this information.”

Beamish told Coast Reporter the council briefing has occurred, but no decision about bonding has been made. He also said another option is “to ensure that insurance limits are high and that the Town is named as an additionally insured party, which has been done up to now.”

An update on the George project that was scheduled to be presented to councillors at their May 7 meeting as part of the planning department’s quarterly report said staff is still reviewing the lot consolidation, airspace parcel subdivision, and road dedications needed for the project to go forward.

“Conditions of subdivision approval include but are not limited to entering into a servicing agreement that includes the construction of the Waterfront Walkway and Plaza, dedicating the Plaza as road, registering rights-of-way and covenants to provide maintenance of the plaza, waterfront walkway and pier, and a cash contribution for the upgrade of the Prowse Road Sewage lift station.”

An Environmental Appeal Board hearing of a complaint brought forward by the Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community challenging the province’s handling of the environmental approvals for the site is scheduled for late October in Sechelt.

The hearing was to have been held earlier, but was delayed at the request of George Gibsons Development Ltd., which is a third party in the proceeding, to allow the company to conduct further site studies.

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