The city's preliminary layout acceptance for a 353-unit subdivision on 32.9 hectares of undeveloped land in Linley Valley west is good news for Nanaimo and the economy.
Mount Benson Developments has pledged to preserve habitat and recreational benefits of the area, which is also good news. Not just because that is what good development is all about, making sure the homes fit within its environment. That is wise in regards to the marketability and attractiveness to buyers.
But also because it will result in about 45 per cent of the property being preserved. That portion includes an existing trail system and sensitive wetlands.
The park dedication is above and beyond what was required, and that generosity has not
escaped the attention of the city. It's part of what we've come to expect from solid corporate citizens here in Nanaimo.
It means construction jobs, lots of them, as one would expect with 353 units. It also leaves an opportunity for the investor to make a profit on the project on land that they've held as investment for many years.
For those who still think that profit is a dirty word, they need to be reminded that profit -or the opportunity for advancement -is a necessary part of business. It is indeed the engine that drives any company. Profitable businesses create jobs and, again, pay taxes.
Opponents to the project, most notably the Save Linley Valley West group, are not happy with the development, and have raised objections as the project has moved along.
Anti-development forces always claim the "high moral ground" of preserving the environment, but while so doing, overlook this important point:
Developers make significant contributions to communities. At some point, any private developer could have purchased the land and, subject to city regulations, built much more on the property.
The developer made a sizable investment, and since then has been paying taxes on the property, in hopes of some day building something on it and generating a return.
It's amazing that, with so many hoops to jump through on projects like this and the lengths at which naysayers will go to impede progress, that developers continue to move forward without giving up.
That's one of the ways that opponents have found to stop development, all under the guise of protecting the environment. By demanding this study and that, and bending the ears of civic politicians and bureaucrats, they can add months and years to the development process.
Time delays represent a significant expense which developers need increasingly deep pockets to justify. Financing charges don't stop because of delays.
For those who oppose developments like this, there is an option, albeit an expensive one: Buy the land at market value -if the developer so chooses to sell it. That's fair. If they don't want to sell, then too bad. They have every right not to.
For the record, Linley Valley west is not the same situation as Colliery Dam park, which is public property, belonging to all of Nanaimo. Taxpayers have every right to fight to keep this unique jewel, for it is their monies that maintain the park, and would be used to demolish the dams. Battling to maintain public property is entirely right and proper.
It is totally another matter to protest and fight a development on private land, especially when nearly half of the total property is being dedicated to preservation.
The city has taken its share of lumps over the past year, but on this one, they've done right so far, and should be applauded.
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