The first and last person to speak at a city hall public hearing Tuesday on an application to reduce access to a large development in Promontory saw her house destroyed by 2011 fire.
Julie Bumby was one of more than 20 residents of Goldspring Place who attended a public hearing to express opposition to the developer's application.
The massive project-as proposed by Gold Spring Heights Development Ltd. out of West Vancouver- could see as many as 322 residential, single family strata homes on the steep land at the back of Promontory.
The public hearing Tuesday was to consider removal of the requirement for a second vehicular access to Sylvan Drive. Neighbours expressed considerable opposition for many reasons, most related to safety and emergency access.
On March 7, 2011, a fire destroyed the Bumbys' home on Goldspring as the couple watched from the road. Julie's husband Tim had had a heart attack a couple days before so was resting at home when he smelled smoke. The Times was on the scene that day as the house was decimated by fire and-of interest at Tuesday's meeting-the road was totally blocked by fire trucks for close to four hours.
"We were lucky that day there was one fire and that was it," Goldspring resident John Romain said of the Bumby fire. "You are going to multiply it by 10.. .. We are going to lose somebody up there."
Resident Peter Montague provided a map of a flat residential area near city hall that has, by his count, 352 homes and no fewer than 11 access roads.
Council clearly heard the concerns of residents and voted six to one against the application, with only Coun. Ken Huttema in favour.
Twenty-six residents of Goldspring Place sent letters of opposition to the proposal, and many of them spoke to council Tuesday.
Some had issues with less emergent concerns such as access in winter when, even while roads lower down on Promontory are bare, snow and ice can hit Goldspring making for treacherous driving conditions.
"What a nightmare will be created if there is only one access road to this massive development," wrote Nancy Edwards in a letter to council.
Vice-president of the development company Claus Hoelk addressed council to answer some questions. A seemingly exasperated Hoelk talked about how his company has owned the land in question for 20 years, and they would have developed it then if it weren't for the many hurdles at various levels of government. Hoelk said his firm bought the property in 1993 "when Promontory was predominantly a cow pasture." "One property access, the studies indicate, is sufficient here," Hoelk said.
While a large development, the 322 homes planned pales in comparison to the 487 units originally envisaged for the property. The traffic report commissioned by the developer
found "that the maximum peak hour volume on Goldspring Place will. .. be appreciably less than the practical capacity of the local road."
Council decided common sense and safety was more important and Couns. Ken
Popove, Sue Attrill, Jason Lum and Stewart McLean all spoke against the one access plan.
"There may be regrets down the road if we don't plan for it," Mayor Sharon Gaetz said, also speaking against the application.
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