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Vision 2013: Bamberton does its homework before construction
Let’s call Bamberton Industrial Park a sleeping green giant.
Lawyer Zaal Aresh explained how Bamberton Properties LLP’s mammoth project will awaken in coming years, given various rezonings now passed by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Those rezonings switched 136 hectares of Bamberton to light-industrial, commercial, and outdoor recreational use from forestry zoning on two big parcels west and east of the highway.
During a largely supportive public meeting in early 2012, Bamberton brass explained its project could bring $810 million in jobs and other spinoffs to the community, while widening Mill Bay’s tax base.
“That’s the hope, that’s the reason we did this,” Aresh said from California.
BPL has signed 17 community and environmental covenants with the CVRD to protect the sprawling commercial-industrial site straddling the Trans-Canada Highway, and down to the seaside.
Those covenants stipulate agreement on BPL’s dedication of 12-hectare McCurdy Point Park to the CVRD; protecting riparian-stream areas and sensitive ecosystems; enlisting fire protection from Mill Bay’s hall; and protecting groundwater.
“The CVRD was very diligent in ensuring the community was protected,” he said. “Before any development occurs, terms of the covenants have to be met.”
But complying with those covenants ain’t cheap. BPL spent $30-million on cleanup of the derelict Bamberton site.
“And we’ve spent over $500,000 since January 2011 when the industrial project rezoning started, and the idea for 3,200 homes was abandoned,” said Aresh
Now BPL’s five investors aim to finish work toward handing McCurdy Point to the public.
“Physical surveying of McCurdy is complete, and we’re finishing documents to subdivide and transfer it.
“The CVRD must pass a resolution accepting McCurdy as a park, and we hope all this is done before the end of October,” Aresh
Then “we can refocus our energies to assess market demand for product (commercial-industrial space),” he continued.
Those optics would see taming thickets of development permits, road work, water supply and sewer building and more, overseen by the CVRD.
“It’s about how best to use the land.”
Bamberton land west of the highway could be leased or bought by customers; land east of the highway would only be leased.
About 53 hectares around the Bamberton underpass have been rezoned to business park commercial-industrial (20.4 ha), and light-industrial zones (32.9 ha).
Bamberton’s seashore core sports industrial zoning.
A second light-industrial (I-3) zone of some 76 ha book-ending Bamberton’s old cement plant core site — and a 6.1-ha forestry/outdoor recreation strip west of the core — are ready too.
But Aresh said plans for a zip line and other core activities are on hold.
“The biggest problem is access — how do you mitigate potential conflict between industrial traffic and tourist traffic?”
The core site holds long-term tenants Lehigh Cement, Macdonald & Lawrence Timberframing, Ruskin Construction, Heavy Metals, and BA Blacktop.
Bamberton opponents worried about pollution of water supplies.
“Commercial users have very small water use,” Aresh said,
Bamberton’s tertiary-sewage treatment would yield near-drinkable standards, and waste wouldn’t be dumped into Saanich Inlet.
“Our waste has to be (treated to) Class A,” he said, reassuring residents on Inlet Drive.
“We have a water-protection covenant to prevent against well contamination,” he explained, noting engineered assessments needed.
The CVRD has ordered BPL to have biologists do sensitive-ecosystem mapping, and protection strategies.
And Bamberton’s not anxious to reopen waste-recycling debates after the CVRD’s failed Eco-Depot debacle.
“That’s a political hot potato. We’re happy to be a solution for the CVRD. A number of people have brought up the fact Bamberton would be the right spot for a recycling facility.”
But not for big box stores: project spaces are limited to 250-square-metres.
“Our retail size is limited; there is no option for big box,” Aresh said.
BPL hopes to probe business options with the CVRD and Economic Development Cowichan.
“We’re looking to CVRD directors for decisions about what kinds of businesses they want brought to the site,” Aresh said.
“No one likes development but you have to have it, especially if it’s done smartly like the CVRD did it — not like in Houston where its a hodgepodge.”