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Preservationists dominate public hearing for bylaw amendment

While the fight to save Gospel Rock in Gibsons, BC has continued for decades, last Thursday’s public hearing at Elphinstone Secondary was the last chance for community members to express their views regarding the related bylaw amendment. (The second reading of the amendment came on July 31.)

When I arrived early and saw many rows of empty seats, I was afraid that the proceedings regarding the amendment (#985-8 2012) to incorporate the Gospel Rock Neighbourhood Plan into Gibsons’ Official Community Plan bylaw 985, 2005 would move ahead with little local feedback.

But by the 6 p.m. start, hundreds of people had already filled seats. Within about 20 minutes, the speaker’s list had more than 40 names. Within the first hour, passionate voices to preserve Gospel Rock, plus those who did not support the neighbourhood plan in its existing form, outnumbered the pro-amendment people by roughly seven to one.

Those in favour of the amendment said that they thought the consultation process had gone on long enough. They acknowledged that the existing plan wasn’t perfect, but felt it was a catalyst for moving forward.

Lorne Lewis, Sunshine Coast Regional District director for Area E (Elphinstone) spoke against the amendment, charging that the current plan for waterfront development was “unsafe and unpalatable,” making access to the proposed area dangerous.
Another speaker recommended creating a nonprofit society and raising money to make Gospel Rock a park, in the same way that the region’s Francis Pt. Peninsula Provincial Park was created. But political will is needed for such an action, she pointed out.
Here is an overview of the opinions expressed against the bylaw amendment and existing neighbourhood plan:
  •  the waterfront is not preserved
  • a development would threaten Gibsons’ aquifer and the town’s water supply
  • it doesn’t follow the policies of the OCP, especially regarding densities
  • it lacks smart-growth policies
  • it doesn’t save forest for community use or protect biodiversity
  • it removes the existing wildlife corridor
  • there is no mention of geothermal energy
  • it threatens Seaward Creek
  • the east part of the proposed waterfront area is an unstable geotechnical zone
  • it doesn’t take into consideration the impact of global warming
  • it doesn’t consider the impact of additional traffic onto Chaster and Pratt Roads
  • the proposed access does not meet fire regulations and requirements by provincial government’s transportation ministry
  • it ignores the area’s designation as sensitive ecological inventory, as defined by the province.

Gibsons Council will vote on the bylaw amendment tomorrow, Oct. 16, at its regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. The community group Friends of Gospel Rock encourages concerned citizens to attend.



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October 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm
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