GETTING AHEAD OF THE WAVE: “What Drives Settlement on the East Coast of Vancouver Island” – Story #3 in the ‘curriculum preview series’ for 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series initiated a conversation about ‘one market, from Cobble Hill to Campbell River’

Note to Readers:

This article is the third in a series that will both set the scene and serve as a resource for the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series. The article introduces the following question: What are key factors that drive large-scale real estate development projects on Vancouver Island?

This Story #3 is an abridged version of an article that is six pages in length. To read the complete article, click on this link to download a PDF version of What Drives Settlement on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. The article:

  • provides context for implementing a Regional Team Approach;
  • describes the development context in the mid-Island region;
  • presents the rationale for viewing the mid-Island as one market; and
  • introduces the Lesson Plan for the first seminar in the series of three.

Over the course of the 2009 Series, the implications for the Comox Valley will be explored from three perspectives, namely: community values, provincial policy, and regional strategies/plans.

Understand the Dynamics of Settlement Change

Research by the Real Estate Foundation, undertaken by Tim Pringle, concludes that the real estate development in the mid-Island region is a common market. This one market concept suggests that communities, can choose from among development proposals, and can therefore control their destinies.

One Market, from Cobble Hill to Campbell River

“The mid-Island communities have the assets that developers need to be successful. Community values that are focused on the ultimate goal of settlement in balance with ecology ought to direct decisions on development proposals. And if communities align their efforts to achieve a shared vision, this will go a long way to determining what Vancouver Island as a whole will look like in 50 years,” states Tim Pringle. For 20 years, he was REFBC Executive Director. He is currently Director of Special Programs.

“At the first seminar in the Comox Valley Series, CAVI will introduce the tag-line “one market, from Cobble Hill to Campbell River”.

“This concept is our synthesis of what we have been exposed to over the past three years, the many conversations that we have had and heard, and what our research tells us. This process has yielded a fuller and strategic understanding of current, persistent context of settlement change.”

The Development Context

“Vancouver Island offers large tracts of privately owned land, communities with urban/rural character, and unique natural amenities, in particular access to waterscapes, which attract large-scale development. We have observed that development proposals for complete communities, resort-based and mixed-use developments rely on these assets,” continues Tim Pringle.

“When one looks at the numbers as a whole, it quickly becomes apparent that more development units are being proposed than Vancouver Island communities can absorb.”

Supply and Demand

“We reached the same conclusion when we looked at the initial findings from our Regional Growth Strategy,” adds Michael Zbarsky, Engineering Analyst with the Comox Valley Regional District.

“The projected population growth for the Comox Valley is less than the projected number of development units. From an infrastructure servicing perspective, this tells us that we can pick and choose from what is being proposed.”

“This leads into the question of how do we pick and choose from among competing proposals, and how do we overlay the various lenses that ultimately inform the decision as to what will get built. How we address the ‘HOW question’ is the key to the Learning Lunch Seminar Series.”

Right Development in Right Place

Eric bonham“Because the 2009 Series will serve as a springboard beyond the Comox Valley, it is important to us that we stimulate a conversation about one market, from Cobble Hill to Campbell River,” states Eric Bonham, Chair of the Highlands Stewardship Foundation and a founding member of the CAVI Leadership Team; and formerly a Director in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. He points out that this raises questions about the future, including:

  • What will Vancouver Island look like in 50 years?
  • Will communities protect their wellbeing?
  • Will they choose to treat settlement change and ecological resources with equal understanding?
  • Will they find balance?”

Regional Team Approach

Tim Pringle provides this frame-of-reference for the Comox Valley Series: “Stepping back to look at the really big picture, the question then is: how will communities from Cobble Hill to Campbell River align their efforts to ensure the right development in the right place in the right time?”

“Answering this question leads us to a regional team approach that is founded on broad and inclusive partnerships and collaboration.”

The 2009 Comox Valley Series is open to any local government on Vancouver Island. This means the Series provides a timely forum for exploration of the “one market” concept with water and land practitioners from other municipalities and regional districts.