Cobble Hill’s Arbutus Ridge has removed its $1.5-million marina which was opened to great fanfare in 2018.
Rudi Mayser, the resource manager of authorizations for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development, sent a letter to Arbutus Ridge, a seaside retirement community touted as one of the best in Canada for active seniors, in August stating the dock’s construction was not authorized by the ministry.
Mayser said in the letter that an agent of Arbutus Ridge’s strata council emailed FrontCounter BC, which deals with licences, permits and other authorizations required from the government, in October, 2017, to ask some questions about applying for a permit to construct the dock.
He said that, in response, the agent was informed that the application was assigned to a land officer, but a timeline for completion could not be provided.
“With full knowledge that the application had not yet been approved, a barge was mobilized to the site, arriving on Oct. 17, 2017, and construction of the new moorage facility was completed without authorization, prior to First Nations consultations, with no supporting documentation of construction activities, and transgressing the terms of certain agency referrals,” Mayser said.
“Also, the as-built improvements differ significantly from the structure described in the application. The land officer to whom the file was assigned was notified in Feb., 2018, by external sources that the project had been completed.”
Mayser goes on to say that the unauthorized dock has since suffered extensive damage in moderate sea conditions within the first year, and the extent of the damage continues to grow and indicates that the facility was not constructed to withstand local year-round conditions, raising significant safety concerns.
“A letter from Herold Engineering, dated July 22, 2019, identifies multiple design flaws that have resulted in the observed damage,” he said.
Mayser said on Feb. 15, 2019, the ministry sent a letter to Arbutus Ridge requesting additional information in order to satisfy application requirements and facilitate a review of the project.
“Despite several deadline extensions, as of the time of the preparation of this letter, none of the requested information has been provided by [Arbutus Ridge] to the province’s satisfaction, or at all,” he said.
“Because the required information has not been provided, the application remains incomplete. As such, the province is not able to continue its review of the application and is notifying [Arbutus Ridge] that the application is rejected.”
Mayser said the ministry has decided to refer the file to its compliance and enforcement branch for action.
He said the actions that may be taken include ordering the removal of the dock, and if that order is not followed, the ministry may remove it with the costs going to Arbutus Ridge.
Patrick Frechette, the general manager of the strata council which governs Arbutus Ridge, said the dock has already been removed after suffering damage from storms since it was constructed.
He said the strata council recently met and discussed the issue, and determined there was no further need for a response at this time.
“When the time comes, we’ll look at replacing the dock, and then we’ll reach out to the ministry and start the [application] process again,” Frechette said.
“The strata owners are aware of the situation and legal counsel has been advising them accordingly. The owners will continue to be updated, and we expect there will be no further outcomes to this situation until next year.”