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Developer seeks land use letter from qathet Regional District

Wellness destination proponent looks for explanation from planning committee
AWAITING CORRESPONDENCE: The developer of a wellness destination centre proposed for a Brew Bay property that has been put up for sale has requested a letter from qathet Regional District outlining building policies. As of yet, regional directors have not supported such a proposal.

A proponent for a prospective wellness destination centre at Brew Bay is hoping for a letter from qathet Regional District (qRD) to outline land use rules on regional district properties.

At the May 10 planning committee meeting, directors heard from Judi Tyabji, founder of Veda Canada Destination Wellness Corp, requesting a letter outlining approaches the regional district takes to allowing development. Tyabji’s company is one of the principles behind the proposal for a wellness centre and real estate development.

Tyabji had previously appeared before the planning committee at its April 12 meeting asking for a letter to assist developers in unlocking financing from a company called HP Kapital by explaining on paper the role of the local government in the building permitting process. At that meeting, regional directors did not approve the letter, in part because another offer on the Brew Bay property had been accepted.

“We’re coming back because we want to put an offer in this week,” said Tyabji. “I went back to the video of the last meeting and took the words that were said by the manager of planning services.”

Tyabji included a proposed letter to be put on regional district letterhead, outlining its planning procedures.

Tyabji highlighted the Brew Bay development for directors. She said guests would be coming from around the world, but the concept is of a village where local people will see it as an extension of the values in the community that exist in the qathet region.

At the conclusion of her presentation, Tyabji asked about her letter request, and whether it would be taken to a vote.

Next steps up to board, says director

Electoral Area C director and planning committee chair Clay Brander said she had appeared as a delegation and the delegation comes before the committee and the committee asks questions.

“Any steps that are taken afterwards are up to the members of the board,” added Brander.

After the planning committee meeting, Tyabji said she had asked for a letter and did not receive a commitment for one.

“For about three months, I’ve been trying to get a letter that speaks to the unique regulatory regime of qathet,” said Tyabji. “I was elected to local government in Powell River and I served as a director on the regional district, so I’m quite familiar with the processes and framework, et cetera.

“In March, I had set up a Zoom call with qathet and HP Kapital. One of the directors [of the company] expressed that it’s standard operating procedure for them, and of course, they’ve never seen a regime like qathet when it comes to local government. He asked if there could be a letter on qRD letterhead that just says this.”

Tyabji said two letters were sent and both were worded in a way that implied that the regional district had authority to dictate what was happening on that property.

“One of them made it sound like a development permit was needed because of the creek,” said Tyabji. “What it didn’t say is: only if you’re developing in the riparian zone.

“The second letter was very short and it didn’t say enough. It said there was no building permit bylaw and there was no zoning bylaw. It didn’t say that you don’t need any permission. All we are looking for is something that says: if you own the land, you do not need permission from the local government to construct anything on it.”

Tyabji said after the difficulty obtaining the letter in March, she went to the April meeting. She said the difficulty was that morning, she was told that an offer from a different party had been accepted on the 184-acre oceanfront development site at Brew Bay.

“I went to the planning committee meeting and still asked for the letter,” said Tyabji. “The manager of planning services spoke very articulately to that regime, however, because the property had an offer on it, the consensus was no letter was needed because the letter would have to be specific to that property.

“A couple of weeks ago my realtor contacted me and said we should be ready to make another offer. I’ve been working on this for four years. I now have a giant company in London that is excited to do all of the financing and the buildout. I was hoping for some excitement from the local [regional board] directors. Their position is they can’t support any specific development.”

Tyabji said she had drafted a letter for the May 10 meeting which was essentially a transcript of what had been said in April, and that the intended letter is not a letter of support.

She said that at the conclusion of the May planning committee meeting, there was no deliberation over her request for a letter, but she still wants one.

“Hopefully, the project will happen and it will happen on the property because it will protect that property,” said Tyabji. “That property is unique and the development is unique.”

In response to Tyabji’s statement after the meeting, Brander said if one of the committee members wishes to bring forward a motion at the May board meeting, they will have that opportunity.

“I was not inclined to do so because, in my opinion, it’s one thing to answer a direct question about local land regulations, but it’s entirely another matter to advertise a vulnerability in the system in the form of a letter,” said Brander. “At the end of the day, the board would like the official community plan (OCP) to be followed, and the proposed development plans would not.

“I do not have any bias against the proposed development, but the wishes of the people, which are expressed in the OCP, need to take precedent.”