On April 3 the Town of Gibsons gave first reading to a bylaw for the development of the 360-unit Gospel Rock Village subdivision, even though neighbours in the SCRD are unhappy about the additional traffic that will be generated on Chaster and Pratt Roads.
Sharon Danroth and Susan Rule of the For the Love of Gospel Rock Society appeared before council to present a petition with 233 signatures, urging the town to build “infrastructure before development.”
Rule, who lives on Pratt Road, stated: “What I can’t understand is how the Town thinks it’s OK to affect one whole community to build a whole other community.”
She delivered a long list of concerns, including emergency access, construction traffic, negative effects on farmland and displacement of wildlife, concluding: “It’s not ethical for the town to dump all its traffic on SCRD Area E Elphinstone and to run it all down Pratt Road without putting in another arterial road. We’re not saying Pratt Road can’t be used…but we need another road to share this load.”
The Gospel Rock Village proposal includes 60 single family dwellings, 150 townhouses, and 150 apartments to be built on a property that lies between Chaster Road and Gower Point Road. Currently the only access to the area is to the west through the SCRD, although the town has plans to build a road to the north connecting to Shaw Road.
Responding to Rule’s comments later in the meeting, Mayor Wayne Rowe stated:
“The [Gospel Rock Neighbourhood] plan contemplates a buildout of in excess of one thousand units in that area, but the town recognized the potential impact on our neighbours, and in that plan placed a restriction that it would not permit more than 250 units to be developed until such time as there was an alternative access through the town, ideally off the Shaw Road area.”
“There was a comment made about infrastructure first. You know there’s no pot of money to just go out and put in roads and sewers and water lines. It has to start with the development because the money has to be generated to do that. So there has to be some development before the infrastructure can take place,” said Rowe.
Members of the community have been campaigning for decades to have the Gospel Rock area turned into a park. In June 2017, the For the Love of Gospel Rock Society wrote to owner Ji Yongqiang asking him to leave the land undeveloped while the community raised money to buy it as a park but Ji declined.