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Timbercrest proposal raises emotional plea

Dora Wiison, left, Maureen Tommy and Chuck Seymour listen during Thursday’s Timbercrest public hearing. - Peter W. Rusland
Dora Wiison, left, Maureen Tommy and Chuck Seymour listen during Thursday’s Timbercrest public hearing.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Rezoning approval for two Timbercrest properties is now being discussed by North Cowichan councillors after Thursday night’s emotional public hearing.

Locals spanning Cowichan Tribes elders to homeowners unanimously pleaded with Mayor Tom Walker and council not to rezone about 1.5 acres for five homes planned by George Schmidt’s Timbercrest Estates.

“I’m totally against this (rezoning),” Quamichan elder Ruby Peter told the packed chambers.

“Our people lived here in the 1800s, and the (Somenos) creek was our highway to the (Cowichan) bay and the islands.

“Now that creek’s filthy, and I want the land returned to the Quamichan people.”

Residents’ major concerns pivoted on possible Aboriginal remains and artifacts in the northern quarter-acre parcel.

Half of that northern parcel’s already been residentially rezoned.

One home is planned on that property holding endangered Garry oaks.

The larger, southern 1.25-acre property — that’s largely been cleared — is targeted for four homes on a cul-de-sac.

The two properties are bordered by a five–acre parcel — holding a rare, ancient pit house and graves — dedicated as parkland by the developer due to archeological values.

That dedication was part of an earlier deal Schmidt struck with North Cowichan and the regional board involving his housing development in Cowichan Bay.

Municipal planner Scott Mack said the proposal to rezone both Timbercrest parcels to R3 (residential one and two) from the current A2 rural zone has two of four readings.

Councillors will review hearing minutes and more in a report being completed by today, Mack said.

Meanwhile, the developer must do more archeological work in consultation with Tribes and B.C.’s Archaeology Branch.

Developer spokesman Dave Conway stressed that co-operation, noting $10,000 is also earmarked for trail building.

But a tearful Genevieve Johnnie said “It hurts my heart” seeing ancient Quamichan village lands developed for Timbercrest homes.

Land work and tree cutting is banned until the archaeology work is done, Mack noted.

But the developer’s felling of mature Garry oaks in the northern parcel several years ago left bitterness among the Lazenby family.

Jennifer Lazenby called the falling “malicious” while daughter Lexi hefted a sign urging preservation of nature.

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