During the latest Comox Official Community Plan process hundreds of Valley residents made it abundantly clear they wanted Point Holmes maintained as it was: large, single family lots and plenty of green space. To their credit, most of the Comox Town Council agreed and the plan was adopted.
But that may now be threatened.
Ever wonder how Comox town boundaries developed in such an odd fashion out here? Back in the day, Kye Bay, then in the Comox Strathcona Regional District, had a real problem with their water and septic systems. Annexation by Comox solved those problems but others saw that as an opportunity to do something the RD zoning bylaws had not permitted.
Between Claddagh Estates on the bluffs at Cape Lazo and the property south of the Lazo Campground there are some quite large properties. Claddagh was in the planning stages, and both the Campground and another property were slated to be multi-story condo complexes. A number of smaller properties were also being considered for multi-home development. But zoning under RD rules did not permit that.
Owners of these properties then applied to Comox for annexation. They claimed they too had water and septic problems. Problem was, a septic study clearly showed septic systems were not a problem, so they doubled down on the water issue.
But many of those who complained of inadequate or tainted water had very shallow wells. Experts felt strongly, digging deeper wells was the solution. Most who did had excellent water.
Annexation became a divisive issue but the proposed area had a bare majority of people who wanted it. Had Simon Crescent, Wireless Road, even properties on the north side of Lazo as it leaves the oceanfront been included, the referendum would have failed. But it was craftily managed and it passed. That’s why the Town boundaries out there are so crazy.
A cynic would say it was never about water or sewer, it was always about development.
Fortunately, at this time, Comox was developing its Official Community Plan. Two very different visions evolved. The developers saw Point Holmes with hundreds of new “doors”.
But in meeting after meeting, the vast majority of Valley people said they valued Point Holmes as it was: large single family lots with plenty of green spaces. That vision prevailed in the OCP.
It didn’t take long for the Claddagh Estate developers and others to apply for variances. Only Claddagh was successful. They were allowed to develop several slightly smaller lots in return for opening up their gated community and dedicating land to parkland. Many of us thought that was a good trade.
Forward to today. Once again the Claddagh Estates developers are looking for a variance to permit subdivision into smaller lots. I won’t go into how some of those who built homes there feel betrayed by this and are concerned the value of their homes will decline. That fight is theirs. But I am concerned for other reasons.
This new variance application threatens the OCP. If approved, the owners of several other large lots in the Cape Lazo area could also apply to subdivide. Once that variance is in place, it will be difficult for Council to deny other variances.
Developers will chop up Cape Lazo against every intention of the community plan.
I’m also concerned about traffic on Lazo Road. It is unsafe now. There are no shoulders on the road for the many cyclists, walkers and joggers that use it every day. In fact, there is barely enough room for cars.
Problem is, there’s no hope of widening the road. First Nations consider the foot of the hill going up to Kye Bay a burial ground and the whole area of cultural significance. When the road was widened a number of skeletons were unearthed. Another skull was found recently. With the new walking path in place along the water, traffic could be a nightmare. The Claddagh variance will only make that worse.
Comox Council will consider this variance soon. If you share my concerns and want to see Point Holmes remain the gem that it now is, send a message to the mayor and council and attend that meeting. This little change could have very big consequences.