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Gibsons developments stir resistance

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Protestors at Gibsons Town Hall show their opposition to closing part of Winn Rd. to accommodate the George Hotel. The plan was later approved by council. Donna McMahon photo

Three separate proposed developments are currently stirring controversy in the Town of Gibsons.

On July 11, a standing-room-only crowd packed Town Hall for a public hearing on the closure of a section of Winn Road to enable construction of The George Hotel and Residences. Eighteen citizens stood up to comment on the closure, with 16 strongly opposed.

One citizen, Dorothy Riddle, has filed a case with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the elimination of vehicular access to the Gibsons waterfront would eliminate the ability of people with hidden mobility disabilities to access the waterfront.

Council listened to the residents’ submissions without comment, and voted through the road closure.

On July 18, the Gibsons Committee of the Whole reviewed a preliminary staff report on a development application for Block 7 of the Gospel Rock Neighbourhood Plan area.

Gospel Rock has a long and contentious history in Gibsons. Although the property has always been privately owned, citizen groups have been pushing for decades to have the area dedicated as a park. In June, the For the Love of Gospel Rock Society wrote to the current owner, Ji Yongqiang, asking him to leave the land undeveloped while the community raises money to buy it as a park. Ji declined.

Ji has made application to the town to develop “Gospel Rock Village”, a 360-home mix of apartments, townhouses and single family dwellings clustered around a village centre adjacent to Chaster Road. While this proposal is largely consistent with the Gospel Rock Neighbourhood Plan, the density of the development is controversial.

Objections are also likely to come from residents of Elphinstone, worried about increased traffic along Pratt Road. A traffic study referred to the SCRD on July 13 notes that the site will be accessed through Area E until 250 dwelling units are built, at which point a second road access will be built through the Town, connecting to Shaw Road.

On another front, the newly formed Eagleview Neighbours Association (ENA) held a meeting on July 10 at which criticisms were levelled against the 100-unit Eagle View Heights development proposed for a steep five-acre site between Stewart Road and Eaglecrest Drive. Concerns raised included increased density, traffic, noise pollution, and obstructed views.

Eagle View developer Stanley Yasin takes exception to a photoshopped image on the ENA’s website showing a five-storey “high rise” apartment building towering above Eaglecrest Drive. Yasin says the image is misleading and inaccurate, and that the buildings (which will be located below Eaglecrest Drive) are two-storey townhouses designed to blend into the existing neighbourhood.

Although the Eagle View proposal has been discussed twice by the Advisory Planning Commission, it has not yet been considered by council or gone to public hearing. The developer held an information meeting early March, at which feedback was mostly positive. A staff report will be on the agenda of a special Council meeting on Wednesday, July 26.  Donna McMaho

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