Province opens revised George water lease application for comment

The Ministry of Forests Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) is taking public comments on revisions to the application for a commercial water lease fronting the George Hotel and Residences project in Gibsons.

The water lease application takes in an existing lease held by George Gibsons Development Ltd. through Hyak Marine Services, a private moorage permission held by company principal Klaus Fuerniss, and the Town-owned water lot area fronting Winegarden Park, which the Town of Gibsons has agreed to surrender to the company.

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The marina planned as part of the hotel and residences will require removal of existing float anchors, dredging of some 16,000 cubic metres of sediment over an area of 7,157 sq. metres of “intertidal/subtidal foreshore,” and other dredging to “improve water depth and navigation.”

According to a notice from FLNRORD, “Public comments have been received regarding the potential environmental risks associated with the proposed contaminated site remediation plan and the marina development, particularly in regards to the underlying aquifer. The applicant has since submitted a new contaminated site remediation plan as well as an updated management plan and Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP).”

The updated plan, submitted by Keystone Environmental last December, notes that “sediment metals contamination includes arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, zinc and tributyl tin,” likely “due to marine anti-fouling hull paints associated with the former Hyak Marine.”

Keystone’s remediation plan also says, “the planned remedial excavation depth of approximately 0.5 [metres]… will not penetrate the dense till-like soils that protect the Gibsons aquifer and will therefore not negatively impact the aquifer.”

The updated remediation plan is part of the application document available online at: https://comment.nrs.gov.bc.ca/applications and the public comment period runs until Feb. 7.

According to the latest update on the George project approvals from the Town of Gibsons, all the approvals that require a council vote have been completed and work is underway to finalize the land exchange agreement that will give the developer use of an “airspace” parcel under a closed portion of Winn Road, while the surface is to become a Town-owned public plaza. Council recently approved an extension to the deadline to complete that agreement to June of 2020.

The building permit will not be issued until all terms of the agreement have been executed and design of the off-site improvements the developer will have to undertake are finalized.

The developer is also yet to start remediation of the upland site, which includes the properties at 377, 385, 397 and 407 Gower Point Rd. and 689 Winn Rd.

That remediation will also follow a revised plan drafted in 2019 that was the basis for the developer’s successful argument to have an Environmental Appeal Board challenge dismissed.

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