Town of Duncan refuses land swap with Duncan Housing Society – Lake Cowichan Gazette
The Town of Duncan turned down a land swap proposal from the Duncan Housing Society that would have been a first step in the society’s controversial renewal project at Duncan Manor.
At the December 13 meeting, council voted unanimously against staff’s recommendation to finalize the land swap deal with the company that would have seen part of Centennial Park swapped for a section of land owned by the company nearby.
After hearing a number of delegations opposing the plan at the meeting, Council. Garry Bruce has said he sees the land swap proposal as a huge loss of parks for the city if it goes ahead.
“The neighborhood needs more green space, not less,” he said.
“It would be great if another location could be found for the company renewal project at Duncan Manor and we took over that area for more green space. The park should be enlarged, not removed, so I am voting against the land swap.
Duncan Manor, which is operated by DHS, is a three-story, 122-unit building that provides below-market self-catering accommodation for the elderly and people with disabilities.
The facility is over 50 years old, so the company offered to replace it with a brand new, expanded six-story facility on the site with 133 new affordable housing units when complete.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the city and DHS earlier this year in which the city committed to consider exchanging part of the nearby Lawn Bowling Club for part of the park’s parking lot to make way for the construction of the new building on part of the parking lot.
At Monday’s meeting, the board. Tom Duncan said he heard people say the land swap would destroy Centennial Park.
“This is clearly not the case,” he said.
“A six-story building will soon be normal in most places. We also have to take into account that the city’s population will soon exceed 5,000 and we will need additional income to cover rising costs like police. I don’t see the land swap as destructive, but as an improvement.
Com. Jenni Capps said she found some of the community talk around the issue troubling.
She said some posts said the land swap would destroy up to 50% of the park, while others compared it to rape, which she found deeply offensive.
“I recognize that the Duncan Manor replacement has to happen soon and the more priority housing projects we have like this, the less we will have to consider measures like the ones we envisioned earlier tonight to help homeless people. [council allowed a temporary-use permit that will see another 40 cabins for the homeless set up on Trunk Road]”said Capps.
“I would like the city to make it a priority to help the company find another location for this project. I am not opposed to the density downtown or the density near the park. Expansion is needed, but I don’t want to see any fleet loss.
Com. Carol Newington also said more housing is needed in the city, but there is also a need for places for children to play.
“The park is so vital to the health and well-being of our children,” she said.
“I am not opposed to affordable housing, but I am opposed to abandoning our park. “
Com. Bob Brooke also agreed that housing is a critical issue in Duncan.
“That being said, parks are scarce in the city,” he said.
“If the city grows as much as we think it will, the value of the park will increase dramatically. I support the redevelopment of Duncan Manor and we should help them in any way we can, but I cannot support the land swap. It is not in the interest of the city.
The council declined the land swap, but agreed the city would continue to work with DHS to find another suitable location for their project, including the current Duncan Manor site within its own boundaries.
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