Echo Heights forest gets first two readings toward development

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An open house is being planned for Chemainus to further explain North Cowichan's development of publicly owned Echo Heights forest.

That meeting date was pending at press time after council gave the first two of four readings last week to a bylaw toward rezoning the forest to mixed-residential and parkland.

Despite continual lobbying by the Chemainus Residents' Association to preserve all of Echo Heights as parkland, council has decided to sell 20% of it as housing lots.

Back in November 2013, council asked staff to prepare a bylaw toward rezoning 20% from the current Residential (R2) zoning to a mix of residential zonings (R3, R3 – S, R3 – MF, R3 – CH and R7).

The bylaw would save the remaining 80% of Echo Hieghts, including environmentally sensitive areas, in a Public Conservation (PC) zone.

That parkland would be maintained and protected as a municipal park, council's minutes explain.

"Staff developed a concept plan for the 20%, anticipating a mix of single-family housing with or without secondary suites, including some carriage house lots, plus three multi-family sites for townhouses."

The concept plan also identified significant trees in the 20% development area with a view to protecting the majority of these.

The public meeting would usher a formal public hearing for citizen feedback about the zoning bylaw's final two readings.

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