An estimated 75-80 people attended an open house at the Gibsons Public Market on April 26 to review the latest proposal to develop “Block 7” of Gospel Rock.
Block 7 is the largest of 14 properties in the 140-acre Gospel Rock Neighbourhood Plan area. The neighbourhood plan, approved after a lengthy and contentious process that stretched from 2005 to 2012, calls for high-density development on the site.
The current owner, Ji Yongqiang, hired a team of consultants to develop the Gospel Rock Village Plan. This plan calls for 360 homes (60 single family, 150 townhouses, and 150 apartments) clustered around a compact village centre with a small inn and brewery. Development is focused at the north end of the lot, adjacent to Chaster Road, leaving the waterfront along Gower Point Road, the forested slopes, and the viewpoint at ‘cross rock’ as publicly accessible green space.
Challenges in developing the neighbourhood plan area include a lack of road access from the Town (currently the access is via Chaster Road, which is in Area E of the SCRD), and rocky terrain that makes water and sewer servicing expensive. The 46.6-acre Block 7 property has changed ownership multiple times since 2005. Ji Yongqiang bought it in 2016.
Although local residents have been advocating for decades for the Block 7 to be turned into a park, the Town has never tried to purchase it due to the cost. The non-profit “For the Love of Gospel Rock” Society was formed in 2014 to buy the property and leave it as an open natural green space, but the group has been unable to raise the millions of dollars required.