Ever look at a picture of a sunset and feel no joy? No happiness. No desire to be at that place. Well this is where I am at the moment with Pender Island, BC, Canada. For over a year I have shared stunning scenic after stunning scenic on this blog, but no matter how pretty the place is, it has problems. Sometimes problems make you think perhaps it is time to part ways.
I’ve never actually shared the issues on this blog before, but I will share the one that is really making us doubt owning our island home. Today, through an unconventional method, we found out about a proposed resort ( owned by Robert Conconi ) at the foot of the hill going to our little neighborhood. If you want to read the document (NP-TUP-2014.1 Colliers International ) it can be found here.
The short story is a few years back the owner of this property decided to take matters into his own hands and run a resort illegally from farm buildings he had turned into lodgings. Eventually he was shut down due to Land Use Bylaw violations. If you want to google “The Timbers” on Pender Island you’ll find a lot of documentation. We actually came across the whole issue on-line before we bought our property and thought the deal was settled. Well the issue is evidently back. This time instead of running the resort illegally, (and a resort is what it is with multiple lodgings, hosting weddings, a dock, landing of float planes, catering events and a pool) they are trying a loophole to again run the resort. They are requesting a “temporary use permit” for up to THREE YEARS to run the resort. THREE YEARS….how is that temporary? In plain English they are taking a property zoned “rural” (R) and asking for a TUP which essentially turns the property into an area zoned C2 or C3 (commercial). Everyone knows that if the resort is allowed to operate 3 years under a temporary use permit the next step is they will be granted commercial zoning and then in goes the marina, the restaurants, the campground (already mentioned in the above document), the bars, the gas stations…hey maybe we will even get a strip club and a casino right as we enter our neighborhood if we are lucky. These are people that couldn’t obey the law first time around so as I look in my crystal ball I imagine 2nd time round will simply be NASTY.
The whole proposal smacks of the issue we had at the cabin this past spring. If you are interested here is the link. Let’s look at the similarities.
– Both started the ball rolling in “off season” when many people are down south being the typical Canadian “snowbirds” and when part timers are not actively around. Developer types do this hoping that fewer people around makes for less resistance.
– Both indicated (on page 10 of the document I linked!) “the owner has undertaken community consultation over the past year or so”…..HOLY MOLY WHAT A LIE….we were NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER consulted. EVER. EVER. EVER. LIES. LIES. LIES. The same thing happened in the issue at Lac Ste. Anne County where by “consultation” was held in the dead of winter and the event was only advertised in a community freebee newspaper that you may or may not pick up at the local gas station; officially a “consultation” but it works best for developers if you try not to tell any one.
– both the situation in Lac Ste. Anne County and the proposal for Pender didn’t give two tosses for the current residents. The current residents face a lower quality of life, more traffic, more noise, less security, possible environmental damage (how could it not when we will have boats and float planes stirring up the water on that side of our little peninsula all the time), additional strain on a water system that is already taxed in the summer months, plus decreased property values. The resort owners, however, get to fill their pockets with cash at our expense.
(Let’s just expand on the summer water issue for a moment. In our little community water is so scarce in the summer that you aren’t supposed to flush when you pee, water is so scarce that they tell you to turn off the shower while lathering with soap to save water, NO outside watering is allowed. We have a “Wall of Shame” where they post households that use too much water. If water is so tight how in the world can the water in the area take the strain of a commercial venture ?”
– both have chosen to drop commercial enterprises on the doorsteps of actual neighborhoods where people actually live
Now let me share one more kicker. On Pender Island short term rentals are not allowed. If you rent out you home to a family for a week you will have the CRD knocking on your door interrogating you. They will go after average “Joe homeowner” for renting their home out to a normal family looking for a beach vacation. This is no exaggeration, it happened to neighbors of ours here in Red Deer when they rented in the Magic Lakes area on Pender Island during their 2012 August vacation; this is a couple who spend theirs days on the deck reading books and are in bed by 9 pm, not exactly a rowdy crew. The argument to ban short term rentals in the Gulf Islands was “neighborhoods are for neighbors”. However if this proposal goes through it won’t just be one family in the house next door enjoying the beach for a week (while the other family is away I might add), if the proposal goes through we get weddings and conferences and float planes. How is that fair? One house can’t rent out the odd weekend but a property owner with deep pockets can put in a resort.
Did I mention there is only ONE country road into this tiny area? Think of holiday makers, who choose to speed all the time, on a road with a ton of deer, but with properties also the length of the road…not good. We actually base this on actual experience as we play a game called “follow the idiot driver”, and every time we follow an idiot driver they inevitably go to Poet’s Cove Resort……..these are the same idiots who will be driving through our neighborhoods going to the proposed resort at The Timbers.
I know it is only a proposal, but I’m not naive, I know we live in a crooked world. Last year I spent hundreds of hours battling the development in Lac Ste. Anne County, I have no interest in reliving that experience. Maybe I am tired of the negativity we receive on the island simply because we are from Alberta. Funny how they’ll take your tax money and the money you spend at all the local businesses happily, and then freely slag you off because you are from Alberta. I’m pretty done.
The sunsets in this blog post were up on my screen when I found out about the proposal. I look at the picture of the sunset, it is -16C outside and the snow is 3 feet deep, and I have NO desire to go to the island. Actually as I looked at the pictures I said to my husband “Should we sell?”. His answer, “Maybe.”
The joy of a sunset has been killed.
I am not going to waste hundreds of hours fighting other people’s battles over this proposal, other people who will be quick to be snide about us being from Alberta. I’ll write my letter of concern. My husband will call a few neighbors to feel out where they stand. Truth be known, I will not be surprised if a “For Sale” sign goes up.
If you look at a sunset over the ocean and it fills you with dread you really have to question investing the time, money and effort into the island.