City of Nanaimo Implements Steep Slope Development Policy
Pressure to build on hillside lands was the catalyst for the City of Nanaimo adopting the steep slope development permit area and zoning bylaws. Cottle Creek Estates provides an early example of how these bylaws, and Nanaimo's approach to green infrastructure, are being implemented. This precedent-setting residential development is located off Hammond Bay Road in the Departure Bay area of Nanaimo.
Designing with Nature
The vision of Cottle Creek Estates is one that brings people and nature together. Custom home designs will ensure that the homes are best suited to the view, sunlight, privacy and natural tock and tree locations of each lot. Cottle Creek Estates will include 145 single-family and multi-family homes. The multi- phased project is expected to be completed in four years.
Guiding principles included altering standard development practices, clustering of houses, and working with the landscape. According to Deborah Jensen, a planner with the City, “It was exciting to collaborate with the Cottle Estates developer to fit houses into the natural environment through application of design with nature principles.”
Preservation of the forested setting ultimately relies on the combination of restrictive covenants plus attracting property owners who embrace environmental stewardship. “The restrictive covenant for each property establishes a building envelope and requires that the surrounding area remain in a natural forested condition”, elaborates Jensen.
At Cottle Creek Estates, protecting the natural quality of the community is the top priority. That’s why each home undergoes a design review with a design consultant. The design consultant works with homeowners, designers and builders to apply the design guidelines to their new homes.
Consistent with the design with nature approach to development, the houses at the top of the ridge will be set back in the trees. “This means homeowners will still have a view while preserving a forested viewscape from below”, notes Jensen, “This contrasts with nearby subdivisions where all you see is a row of houses along the ridgeline.”
Creek Channel Restoration
Cottle Creek Estates includes restoration of fish habitat through a former farm at the base of the hillside. According to Kevin Brydges, a biologist with the CIty, “The developer embraced the creek restoration project because he saw it as an amenity that would add green value to the development.” Flow in the creek is replenished by a system of swales and decorative ponds that have been incorporated in the hillside development.
Because it was the first application of the steep slope policy, the Cottle Creek project involved a considerable front-end investment by the developer to address technical issues identified through the collaborative process. “Once the Development Permit process was completed, all our questions had been answered and any issues had been resolved. Now the developer can get on with implementation to demonstrate how working with nature results in a superior outcome”, concludes Brydges.
Showcasing Innovation in the Nanaimo Region
Cottle Creek Estates is one of three City of Nanaimo projects that will be featured as part of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation on Vancouver Island: The 2007 Series. On September 14, the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo will be co-hosting the first of three events that comprise the series. For the complete story on the Nanaimo program, please click here.
“Keeping it Green”
The vision for Cottle Creek Estates is: Get into nature. The City of Nanaimo and Cottle Creek Estates have worked to preserve and protect this natural area by:
- Strategically locating all development, such as roads, servicing and home sites in such a way as to preserve as many of the unique natural features of the site as is possible. (steep rock bluffs, rocky knolls with garry oaks, lichen and moss covered benches, and forested areas that include the trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants and the soil ecosystem)
- Maintaining the natural, forested character of the area and creating home sites among these native trees.
- Replanting native species in areas where vegetation has to be removed . The goal is to restore damaged areas of the site to their pre-development condition.
- Planting native plants along Cottle Creek and the recently constructed stream bed to create a new riparian habitat in an area that, until recently, was a monoculture.
- Conducting a wildlife corridor study, tree management study, rare plant study and raptor study to determine any potential impacts of development and to lessen the impact on the native plants and animal life.
- Adding stone work and wooden walkways to existing walking trails so residents and the public can more safely navigate uneven terrain.
- Dedicating considerably more area to parkland onsite than the 5 percent required by the city.
Posted August 2007