Opinion

Managed properly, Echo Heights can help build a better North Cowichan

In response to your columnist Robert Douglas’ Jan. 15 piece on Echo Heights.

The anti-development squads that form into “citizen” organizations will mount (are mounting) a campaign against rational-thinking politicians who had the courage to ensure this project moved forward.

I’m confident the silent majority, those who expect their elected council to manage municipal business carefully without getting involved themselves, will cast their vote and keep them in place.

This is my take on Echo Heights, sent to the editor back in October (pre-decision) and never got published:

To further down-zone Echo Heights and limit single dwelling home development to the remaining previously disturbed 10 acres, is not ideal. However, the much smaller proposed development will remain viable and 12,330 acres of mostly forested land will remain in North Cowichan’s hands.

Money raised by the sale of 20% of Echo Heights can be leveraged to get more money. This greater amount of money will be used to build and improve important things we need in our community.

The money, managed carefully, will support other local area planning actions in Chemainus, Crofton, University Village and other areas too.

North Cowichan is a big place and proper asset management and planning helps the municipality from having to borrow and raise taxes to fix or improve things.

Well-planned public investments should stimulate the private sector to also invest, creating jobs and opportunity, something we really need.

Regardless of what left there is for council to consider on Echo Heights, I can’t support political activism of the Chemainus Rate Payers Association.

The CRA is mounting an absolute-zero development campaign. I’m not convinced this is a broadly supported view and it certainly does not serve the best interest of Chemainus.

Politicians must stop pandering to what becomes fringe ideas after the discussions been had and the decisions been made.

Does shelving Echo Heights preserve a future decision for development? Is this the best I can hope for? It is a viable option.

I think though, right now, for the sake of our citizens and our public servants, politicians need to step up to the plate and make a decision the community can count on.

We need to have the courage not only to draw defendable conclusions but allow our well-trained staff to follow through with them.

John Koury is a North Cowichan councillor.

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