Marina neighbours lamenting loss of view

It’s looking more and more likely that Terry and Tricia Parker will be swapping their million-dollar ocean view for decidedly less-desirable scenery.

With the Mill Bay Marina and townhouse development close to receiving the go-ahead from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Parkers will instead be catching glimpses of townhouses.

“We feel like the sacrificial lamb,” Tricia Parker said.

The Parkers and their immediate neighbours will give up the Saanich Inlet view they’ve enjoyed for years, and the community will gain a revamped marina.

“We want a marina too, but I really don’t think that this townhouse development is the only way to go about it.”

The developers of the Mill Bay Marina and its accompanying townhomes did not return calls, but the News Leader Pictorial has previously reported that approval of the project will revitalize the marina — destroyed in a storm last year — in addition to providing the CVRD with the first chunk of land in a proposed waterfront walkway.

“I wonder why a community member has to pay this price for that to happen,” Tricia Parker said.

The Parkers say they aren’t just losing their view.

Reduced sunlight will prevent them from growing produce in the winter months in their year-round garden. They predict even their summer produce will suffer, and their heating bill will go up due to the loss of sunshine heating the home.

Loss of privacy is another concern, as new neighbours will have a direct line of sight into the Parkers’ big windows (installed to best view the ocean).

And then, of course, is the drop in property value.

A home built to get the most out of an ocean view becomes significantly less attractive when that ocean view disappears, even from the rooftop deck.

“We won’t even see the sky,” Tricia lamented.

Mill Bay Director Brian Harrison sympathized with the Parkers’ plight.

“The difficulty in Mill Bay and most of our areas is that there are no bylaws for view protection,” he said. “That’s unfortunate but that is the way it is, and I think it’s really unfortunate they’ll lose their view, but there were some concessions in terms of the height of the buildings.”

The developers could have built up to 10 metres in height, but settled on 7.5 metres.

“I feel badly for (the Parkers and their neighbours) but there is very little that can be done,” Harrison said. “It’s one of those unfortunate things.”

The loss, he added, does mean gains for the entire Mill Bay community, including the Parkers — gains that are supported by the majority of Mill Bay residents.

“For the first time they will have a public walkway across the waterfront,” he said. “There will be a walkway and a mezzanine area that they will be able to enjoy, and the boat-launch ramp will be revised and upgraded as part of the project.

“Those amenities should be of some benefit, even though I know it won’t be any consolation for the loss of view.”

The Parkers, meanwhile, don’t seem surprised their concerns — voiced repeatedly throughout the development application process -— have gone largely unaddressed.

“I think (CVRD directors) want the marina off their plate because it’s dragged on for years, so I think they want it resolved so they can move on and say, ‘Yay, we’ve got a shiny new marina for the community,’ without putting any serious thought into it,” Terry Parker said.

And it should set off alarm bells for other Mill Bay residents, Tricia Parker added.

“If this goes through I think the people of the community should be concerned about what’s going to happen in their neighbourhoods, because a precedent will be set,” she said.

Her husband agreed.

“If this is the way it’s going to go, I think a lot of people need to be really nervous,” he said. “Knock whatever premium you’ve put on your property for the view, because you don’t own it.”

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