Cowichan News Leader

Stoney Hill Road project delayed until June 1

North Cowichan Councillor John Koury spoke out strongly against delaying a decision on the Stoney Hill Road project Wednesday. Koury was in favour of proceeding immediatetly but council voted to delay the project. - Peter W. Rusland
North Cowichan Councillor John Koury spoke out strongly against delaying a decision on the Stoney Hill Road project Wednesday. Koury was in favour of proceeding immediatetly but council voted to delay the project.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Controversial Stoney Hill Road bylaws have been parked until June 1.

North Cowichan councillors passed the postponement at Wednesday's marathon meeting.

The time will let council gain more data and opinions about best road designs, saving natural species, preserving Native archeological sites, calculating total costs, and more.

Mayor Jon Lefebure and councillors  Kate Marsh, Jennifer Woike, Ruth Hartmann and Barb Lines voted for the four-month delay.

Councillors Al Siebring and John Koury opposed it.

The two respectively cited council's legal settlement agreement to build a road to Paul Bourke's property, plus municipal bylaws that control development.

Most citizens present agreed a safer road is necessary for emergency and resident access.

However, sticky issues — from gate use plus rare species and bluffs preservation, to community bitterness — prompted Hartmann's motion to delay bylaws that would pull road land from the municipal forest reserve, and borrow money for the project.

"Give us power to plan. With alternatives (to the planned road) we could decrease the costs."

Lefebure told how he and staff toured rugged Maple Bay Peninsula with Cowichan Tribes' elders.

"Those who haven't seen it before, were awestruck," he said of the view from the bluffs.

But the jagged geography could push prices for the gravel road, to 73 peninsula properties, beyond $2.5 million.

"It might be unrealistic to (financially) achieve what the (road) petition outlines."

Administrator Dave Devana noted big changes to the process could spell a new local area service plan, and maybe a new alternative approval process.

The mayor noted a card-access gate to the road could solve residents' lock issues.

He agreed some access "but nothing too convenient" is also needed to Sansum Point Park.

Lines noted the thorny road process is more complex than initially believed.

"There has to be a road, but a good road for everybody."

Marsh agreed. "We need meaningful land-use planning," she said, insisting on saving the rare coastal Douglas fir ecosystem with community consultation.

Woike wanted an eight-metre road that respects flora and fauna.

But Koury and Siebring said council could finally solve 100-year-old squabbling about the road.

"I'm pro-business and pro-development," said Koury, "but I'm also sensitive to these altruistic goals."

"We have the capacity to do this (road)," said Siebring, "and protect what needs to be protected."

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