Several residents of Race Point north of Campbell River are upset about the impacts of land clearing for a nearby development, but the developer says all regulations have been followed.
The low-density, 200-lot residential development, Ripple Rock Estates, will be built on an approximately 40-hectare parcel located at 6805 Island Highway.
A public hearing on a rezoning bylaw for the development was held in January 2021. Campbell River city council later approved this rezoning — contrary to advice from city staff — on May 10, 2021.
Land clearing on the property started in February 2022, which caused a rude awakening for some Race Point residents.
Steen Christensen, a seasonal resident of Race Point since 2004, said he was drawn to the neighbourhood for its natural beauty.
“That’s why I bought the house; it’s such a natural place, and then the whole area is being destroyed by logging it so heavily,” he said.
Christensen is concerned about the impact of the clearing on several nesting pairs of eagles on the site.
“What was done there does not look too good, and it is sad for the eagles,” he said. “I’m more concerned about the eagles.”
Another Race Point resident, Amy Lottis, said she was alerted to the land clearing by the sound of chainsaws one morning. The removal of trees has since affected views from her property, she said.
“We know where we live there’s always tugboats coming by, but now suddenly, there’s more industrial stuff part of our view,” she said. “I understand there are always going to be growing pains when you’re living in a city, but this was just so drastic and all of a sudden. All of a sudden, the forest on Menzies Bay was just gone.”
The developer of the property, Niclas Haglund, said in an email all regulations have been followed while clearing the land.
According to a Jan. 21, 2021 public hearing notice from the City of Campbell River, “there are several environmental features on the site that will require an environmental development permit including: riparian setbacks, foreshore, and eagle nest trees.”
However, no such environmental permits are in place.
Haglund said the “short answer” for this is the “lengthy, costly and complicated permit application process,” combined with the “immediate and current use of the land for timber harvesting (being) subject to a different permit regime.”
Specifically, the property is legally designated as a Private Managed Forest Land (PMFL), which predates Haglund’s ownership of the property.
“Such operations do not require a redundant municipal Environmental Development Permit, because they are already subject to the extremely stringent and world-class provincial environmental regulations,” he said.
Per the Private Managed Forest Land Act, local governments cannot issue a permit under Part 14 (Planning and Land Use Management) of the Local Government Act for PMFL-designated properties. This means the city is not able to issue permits for the property until the land is removed from the PMFL designation, said Meghan Norman, city planner, in an email.
Haglund said he has complied with all provisions for clearing under the PMFL designation under the supervision of a “local and reputable” Registered Professional Forester.
All streams on the property were left with a 15-metre setback, exceeding the minimum requirements for the “Class D” streams present, he said. Also, under PMFL regulations, clearing on the foreshore to the high water mark is permitted.
With regards to the eagle trees on the property, Haglund said to ensure compliance with the provincial Wildlife Act, a third-party Registered Professional Biologist was hired to implement an eagle management plan. This required a biologist be on site when any logging happened within 200 metres of the eagles. The biologist enacted a 100-metre setback around one of the nests, he said.
“It’s no secret that I have a vision to develop this property into a vibrant and beautiful community, but in the meantime while I await the required permits, I am managing it prudently and diligently in accordance with its legacy designation as private timber land,” said Haglund.