Developer wants support to move Crofton Quay forward

Blaine Mersereau of Crofton Quay Developments explains to North Cowichan council Wednesday his plans for the municipality
Blaine Mersereau of Crofton Quay Developments explains to North Cowichan council Wednesday his plans for the municipality's water lot 256 and contaminated sediments on its foreshore.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Revised plans by Crofton Quay developer Blaine Mersereau to dredge and contain sediment toxins from the burg’s municipal foreshore are now before North Cowichan’s technical planning committee.

Council sent Mersereau’s revised proposal to the TPC Wednesday after the Calgary-based developer explained his revamped ideas.

The primary revision to his $20-million marina, residential and retail project includes amending his development-permit application to exclude use of North Cowichan’s water lot 256 and leave it for public use.

“It’s contaminated and needs remediation, but the municipality has resisted that as council feels it (256) has community value,” Mersereau said.

Mersereau had originally planned to build about half of his proposed 41 marina berths in the water lot.

Under the proposal now before council, the toxic slag — containing high concentrations of copper, zinc barium and molybdenum from Crofton’s former copper-smelting industry — would be hauled to the waterfront’s campground.

Dredging and remediation costs are unavailable as what he sees as the only answer for holding tons of black, sandy dreck dredged from the waterfront.

“A barrier would keep the bad stuff out of the boat basin,” he said.

The Twin Gables Motel owner explained storm water run-off into water lot 256 is now filling the waterfront boat basin with sediment and toxins.

Now Mersereau wants council to formally accept his proposal as part of Crofton’s official waterfront plan.

He noted federal Fisheries granted some $30 million in coastal community upgrades in the past two years but none of it came to Crofton. The feds told the Crofton Harbour Authority no dredging or remediation dough would be approved without a waterfront plan, he explained.

Adopting that plan would pave funding requests to Ottawa and Victoria, he explained.

Mersereau also pitched starting an upland owners’ group comprising the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, council, Crofton Quay Developments, three homeowners and Osborne Bay Resort owners.

Municipal administrator Dave Devana has said DFO brass must approve toxin removals “then they still must ask for habitat compensation to make sure eelgrass goes back in, and the fish are happy.”

Mersereau’s Crofton Quay proposal was initially touted as a three-stage development with up to 75 condominium units, retail space and a marina.

The complex’s size was dependent on the number of units Mersereau felt he needed to build and recoup the costs of cleaning up the foreshore and basin.

His marina and upland property have had citizen input during public huddles in the past two years.

Condos and commercial space are planned for the upland section; with retail, commercial and restaurant use at the marina quay.

Mersereau wouldn’t guess about the number of jobs to be created by his Quay.

“There’ll be many more jobs on the upland buildings, and ongoing jobs at the marina.”

When his project surfaced three years ago, then-municipal planner, Chris Hall, asked council to direct staff to investigate, with federal and provincial agencies and landlords, about upgrading and restoring the harbour.

“Any time you’ve got multiple levels of government and multiple levels of partners, you’ve got a challenge,’’ former North Cowichan mayor Jon Lefebure indicated.

“These things don’t happen overnight, that’s for sure.’’

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