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Tales of development

As one development fell this week, another one appears set to rise.

As one development fell this week, another one appears set to rise.

The most controversial development proposal in the Town of Gibsons' history fell by the wayside (at least for now) as council voted four to one against advancing the Shoal Bay waterfront development to second reading.

The 'no' side clearly won this battle. The past few months, those against the development launched an aggressive information campaign. It worked, as two public information meetings held before Christmas and a public hearing two weeks ago brought out residents in droves. In fact, six per cent of Gibsons population was at the Jan. 29 public hearing, with the overwhelming majority voicing their displeasure with the development.

Those against had their say, and council was put in a position where they had to vote against. Many on council Tuesday night admitted they could find little fault in the proposal or with developer Grant Gillies. Mayor Barry Janyk commented that Gillies was one of the best developers the Town has ever dealt with.

But despite all that, council could not deny the overwhelmingly negative response from the community and would have been committing political suicide had they voted in favour. This is an election year, after all. It's too bad that council was put in that position. It's too bad council didn't do a better job of getting the right message out. It's too bad those in favour of this proposal didn't speak more loudly.

It's now up to Gillies to decide whether he will change his proposal and start the process all over again. We hope he does. This development has a lot of merit, despite what many residents have said.

With the defeat of Shoal Bay, Gibsons loses out on potential tax breaks and money designated for affordable housing, something Gibsons needs right now.

But at the other end of the Coast, the District of Sechelt is taking positive steps towards affordable housing and development in general.

On Wednesday, council granted first reading to the new Habitat for Humanity project slated for Wilson Creek, held its public hearing regarding a new affordable housing amenities bylaw, which appears to be welcomed by the public, and also pushed through more readings for the Walter Burtnick seniors' facility that has affordable housing components.

It's good to see Sechelt following through on these important initiatives. Here's hoping the public will jump on board the Habitat project at public hearing and the 'yes' side will win this time.