What’s the Plan?
Based on more than a year of input from the community, the Plan will include a wide variety of offerings aimed at attracting residents, businesses and visitors that will broadly expand the diversity of the Sunshine Coast. The major focus is on environmental, social and economic sustainability, as well as diversity and life-long learning.
Major portions of the site will be preserved as riparian sanctuaries, active and passive parks, wetlands and natural spaces. These linear parks will include areas for displays of visual arts, venues for performing arts, fitness features and playgrounds for enthusiasts of all ages.
The wide swath of open public space sweeping along the entire waterfront will link to the pedestrian friendly waterfront quay and an extensive network of multi-use paths, walkways and nature trails including integrated cycling and low powered vehicle options. These will provide new links to the Porpoise Bay Provincial Park to the south, the Sechelt Heritage Forest to the North and BC Crown Lands to the east.
Other amenities include a much-needed Paddling Centre, a public day-use dock and an allocation of land for a future Emergency Response Depot. Additional benefits will include job opportunities for commercial and tourism operators, seniors care specialists, educators and hundreds of support, construction and administrative professionals.
Thanks to the incredible input from the community, the Plan demonstrates the absolute best way to rehabilitate this amazing site.
Something for Everyone
The Plan will have something for everyone, including:
- Ocean Walk Quay – a public, pedestrian friendly waterfront mixed commercial zone with special focus on local artisans
- Artisan Place – a rural, live/work home-based business region catering to the craft, creative and innovation oriented entrepreneurs of the new economy
- The Sunshine Coast Academy – a world-class, live-in secondary school for the next generation of opinion and social impact leaders from around the world
- Foxwood Community Living – a cluster-based, small footprint, low impact, efficient housing district, with integrated community gardens and parks.
- Vineyard Ranch Estates – an open, rural, land-based residential area featuring a rural recreation centre
- An Agricultural Area – large acreages targeted at local food producers who are ready to expand and potential vineyards and hop producers
- Inlet Heights – exclusive homes benefiting from the expansive views from the upper terraces
- Eco-Education/Adventure Park – a place where a deeper appreciation of the ecosystem is fostered through awe-inspiring experiences and adventure
The Plan for Sustainability
This site provides the perfect blank canvas for the next phase in the evolution of intelligent development for the new economy and will be constructed to serve as an example for other communities to follow.
The Plan is deeply committed to sustainability and innovation. Every area of the development will go well beyond the norm, by demonstrating best practices in global performance wherever possible. This includes incorporating well-sited, efficient, high performance buildings. These use passive (envelope, insulation, sun and shading, space efficiency) and active (geothermal, photovoltaic, wind) energy systems, natural lighting and ventilation and a comprehensive water management plan.
The wetlands embracing Shannon Creek and Angus Creek and other areas with high ecological value will be protected with generous setbacks and enhanced with nature trails, educational and inspirational viewpoints. Disturbed storm water drainage patterns will be restored by removing industry-made disruptions to the natural terrain. Steep slopes will be preserved as parkland to minimize re-profiling.
This project is the first to welcome scrutiny by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability to validate our commitment to sustainability.
The Plan for Life-Long Learning
Lifelong learning is embedded in every aspect of this multi-generational, integrated, sustainable community development. The ultimate goal is to have all components of the property rooted in education. This will allow all members of the community opportunities to develop their sense of wonder and curiosity, while being given a platform to share their expertise and knowledge. This lifelong development of the mind aligns with the overall concept of Healthful Living.
The layout of the property, including the design of the buildings, will serve as a model for future developments on the Sunshine Coast and beyond. It will be a place where people can learn about the best practices in sustainable community design, ecosystem harmony and a place that will foster the new innovation ideas that will form the best practices of the future.
Improving on the History
The Site is located approximately 4.5 kilometres north of Downtown Sechelt on Sechelt Inlet Road. It is located on a gentle south and south-west facing slope between Porpoise Bay and the bench beneath Cougar Ridge. The site rises from sea level to approximately 220m.
The site was logged in the 1890’s, re-logged in the 1950’s, and became a gravel pit for many years from the 60’s to 90’s. Fortunately, the growth adjacent to the two creeks (Angus Creek and Shannon Creek) was spared from the total clearing of the site and provides a natural riparian area. The remainder of the site is predominantly covered in third-growth alders, which will be replaced by properly designed hard and soft landscape elements that celebrate the site orientation and enhance the proposed uses throughout the site.
On the eastern half of the site the gravel operation disturbed the natural grades and created large piles of gravel, sand and organic material that affected the natural drainage of the site. There are also intentional drainage ditches that created ponds for gravel settlement, and sources of water for other pit uses. Some of these man-made ditches may be relocated to rehabilitate the site to its original state.
Several decades ago, the foreshore area was extended to create a barge landing area for the gravel mining operations, out beyond the original tidal flat area. This new foreshore has created its own ecosystem that will be respected, protected and enhanced by the new proposed uses. The continuous boardwalk will make the foreshore accessible and welcoming to the public.
Angus Creek and Shannon Creek flow through this site. Angus Creek, an important fish-bearing stream, traverses the south-east corner of the site, at the bottom of a steep bank. There are existing nature trails along the creek, along the creek edge at the bottom of the valley which link to the Porpoise Bay Provincial Park. These nature trails will be protected. A no-development zone is proposed within the heavily treed steep bank and an additional 15m riparian edge. The creek and surrounding area will form part of the Eco-Education and Adventure Park, which will include suitable, low-impact outdoor activities.
Shannon Creek is a non-fish bearing stream. The only proposed intervention to the riparian edge is the addition of nature walks and viewing platforms along the creek bank above the high water mark. These will link to the multi-use path network located outside the riparian zone setback.
The Geotechnical View
The geo-physical ability of the site to support development is critical. Geotechnical assessments were developed by Hamilton & Assoc. in 1994 and by AMEC in 2009. The latest assessment consisted of the following components:
- Site Stability Analysis – Seismic Refraction Survey: This analysis consisted of series of 6 explosive shots interpreted by a line of sensors spanning the site;
- Composition Analysis – Penetration Testing: 29 bore holes were drilled at strategic locations on the site to determine the composition of the substructure;
- Ground Condition Analysis – 33 test pits were dug in key locations to determine the soil conditions and moisture content; and
- Geological Hazard Assessment.
The Geotechnical Analysis determined that the site is mainly comprised of gravelly, sandy, stony and clay marine and glacier deposits, covered in approximately 300mm of topsoil. It also confirmed the integrity of the site and the absence of glacio-marine clays.
The engineers have suggested that engineered footings be considered for structures along the waterfront to protect against possible liquefaction and that slopes be stabilized on a structure-by-structure basis. They also included recommendations for cut and fill, back fill and foundation designs.
Engineers from AMECFW (formerly AMEC) have been back to verify the site in recent weeks and have concluded that these findings remain valid.
The Environmental View
The Plan has been developed to minimize the environmental impact. Environmental Assessments were conducted by Pottinger, Gaherty in 2004, and by Cascade Environmental in 2005. Cascade was re-engaged to update their assessment during the last few months. This Plan is based on the findings of these assessments.
Scientists first checked existing maps and aerial photos to determine the “ecological units” that would form the basis of their assessment. Based on this they conducted multiple transects across the property being certain to touch on all of the ecological units.
Historical analysis showed large scale logging of old-growth around 1890 plus a second round of tree harvesting during the 1950’s. Gravel operation impacts from late last century were noted in two locations as was selective logging in the early 2000’s.
The site analysis found one major riparian system along Shannon Creek, plus a minor one along Angus Creek near the south-east perimeter. Despite repeated site exploitation, both riparian zones were found to be intact and will need to continue to be protected in accordance with BC’s Riparian Areas Regulation, including the May 2006 Amendment.
No red-listed (endangered) or blue-listed (special concern) wildlife was found on the site. While none were observed, the riparian areas were considered to be an appropriate habitat for the (blue-listed) Coastal Tailed Frog.
Despite the timber harvesting, selected veteran red-cedar, big leaf maple and western hemlock trees were detected. These, in addition to a recently discovered veteran Yew tree, will be protected in this Development Plan.
Cascade Environmental’s new assessment confirms these original results.
The Storm Water Management
A storm water management analysis was conducted by AMEC (currently AMECFW) in 2006. The analysis consisted of hydrologic modeling based on historical data. The impact of replacing pervious land with impervious materials normally used in roads, parking areas, driveways, roofs, decks was assessed, based on both 5 year and 100 year meteorological returns.
The scientists concluded that the gravel and sand composite substructure is excellent for natural returns to aquifer. They recommended a catch basin plan be implemented at the time of development, and that low-impact development, as proposed in this Development Plan, be considered.
The Traffic View
Traffic studies were conducted by Hamilton & Associates in 1997, and by Bunt in 2005. The 2005 analysis was re assessment on behalf of the District of Sechelt by Binnie & Associates in 2007. These included physical surveys of the road geometry, a traffic background study (21 April 2015 volume plus 20%) and traffic modeling (Friday 4:00-5:00 pm and Saturday 2:15-3:15 pm). Of special significance was the anticipated high concentration of traffic at specific times from the 18-hole golf course.
The analysis forecasted minimal delays (MOT Level of Service A) at existing traffic levels, and that this would continue to be the case even including the augmented volumes resulting from the completion of 800 new homes, 1,500 m2 of additional commercial space and a 40 room hotel plus the (no-longer proposed) 18-hole golf course. Mainly due to the anticipated heavy weekend volumes from the then-proposed golf-course, the engineers suggested that signals and a left turn lane at the intersection of East Porpoise Bay Road and Wharf Road would be helpful. They concluded that there would be only minimal impact from moderate development.
The analysis showed that material impacts on the level of service (MOT Level of Service B) would not occur until the full complement of 1,600 homes, 3,000 m2 of commercial space, a 120-unit hotel and the golf course was built. This Development Plan does not contemplate this level of density.
Binnie & Associates has been engaged to update their assessment for the District of Sechelt, immediately upon approval of the Rezoning Bylaw reflecting this Plan.
Experts from Binnie & Associates have reviewed this Plan and have been engaged by the District of Sechelt to provide a formal review of their previous work prior to final approval of by Council.
The Archeological View
Archeological elements are important values that need to be recognized and protected. I.R. Wilson Consultants completed an archeological examination of the development site in 1995, under Heritage Conservation Act Permit 1995-224. The assessment was conducted in consultation with the shíshálh Nation.
High potential yield areas were determined based on a review of 36 pieces of historical literature. A team of 2 specialists transected the foreshore, creek beds and higher elevations, which were identified as the high potential areas. Their search focused on ethnographic evidence of the presence of Native Indian, European, Euro-Canadian or other ethnic affiliations, with special regard for the shíshálh heritage.
The archeologists found that repeated logging and gravel extraction had disturbed a large portion of the property. Since most, if not all, of the old growth trees had been harvested in 1800’s they felt it unlikely that any Culturally Modified Trees would be present. They did not find archeological evidence in the riparian areas, nor on the man-made foreshore, which was constructed of 3 metres of fill and gravel during the last 50 years.
The archeologists concluded that there is little likelihood that archeological values would be disturbed by development on the Site.
The Marine Ecosystem View
Since the foreshore area of the development site holds ecological and aesthetic value, Pelagic Technologies was engaged to provide a comprehensive marine survey in 2014. This included an initial reconnaissance dive to determine bottom conditions followed by multiple, detailed inter-tidal and sub-tidal transect swims at 15m intervals.
The study found a continuous 3m wide band of eelgrass about 10m from the high, high water mark, with densities of up to 81 plants per m2. Perch, Sculpin, Sea Stars, Red Rock Crabs and Hermit Crabs were found within the eelgrass. No species at risk were observed during any of the dives.
Based on the Pelagic assessment, this Plan recognizes the need to protect the eelgrass. We will require that all structures traverse over the eelgrass to minimize disturbance and over-shadowing, and only non-VOC materials will be allowed in the vicinity of the beds. Furthermore, a “Green Paddling and Boating Centre Protocol” is being developed to maintain a level of ecological integrity in the foreshore area.
A "Car Optional" Neighourhood
The site will be highly walk-able and pedestrian-friendly. Continuous open space systems, linear parkways, and greenways were identified through public consultation as an important means of facilitating pedestrian circulation among key community amenities, such as schools, parks, shopping, residential areas, and community facilities.
Short walking distances encourage residents to shop locally and to obtain basic necessities and services without relying on vehicles. The walk-able community concept also facilitates interaction among neighbours and strengthens the local social network. Accesses, curb profiles and multi-use paths will be designed to permit accessibility for mobility-impaired users.
The elements of the multi-use path network are:
- Sechelt Inlet Road. A bike path will provide safety for cyclists on this arterial road within the Site.
- Collector and Local roads. Bicycles are accommodated in the traffic lanes, separated from pedestrians who use the sidewalks.
- Multi-use paths. In appropriate locations, these gravel surface trails link the sidewalks to a walking network not along a road. The walkways are often located parallel and adjacent to riparian edges of the creek system.
- Nature trails (highly permeable surfaces like gravel, mulch, etc) offer closer views of the creeks and noteworthy viewpoints along the creeks within the riparian areas.
Neighbourhood Design Guidelines
The existing zoning assigns the entire property as a single character. This Plan recognizes the vastness of this property and assigns much more sensitivity to the unique character of each area, providing the opportunity to develop the different parts of the property in unique ways.
The property is set out as an aggregation of linked identifiable sub-areas or neighbourhoods. Each of the neighbourhoods has its own character, intrinsic separation, and different combinations of land use and density that sets it apart from the other.
Public Open space systems, parkways, and greenways were identified through public consultation as important means of facilitating pedestrian circulation among key community amenities, such as schools, parks, shopping, residential areas, and community facilities. As a result areas are linked together through road networks, sidewalks, multi-use paths and nature trails.
The Waterfront – "Ocean Walk Quay"
The Quay concept is founded on the principle of a publicly accessible waterfront that will be a natural draw and destination for the local community and for those visiting the Sunshine Coast.
A strong, mixed-use core, linked to the waterfront boardwalk by a public plaza, will set the tone and character for the entire long-term build-out of this area. The Development will create a feeling of “local”, organic growth.
The Quay will include a boutique-style resort hotel, with spa, restaurant, galleries, and meeting rooms and public areas. A paddling centre and commercial space will provide a sense of vibrancy. The goal is to have small, owner-operated, locally based businesses to create and foster a sense of uniqueness and creativity enhancing and reinforcing the character of a seaside community.
A boardwalk around the perimeter of the Quay will encourage open public access between the waterfront, the Plaza and the commercial area. Generous pedestrian ways, street trees, building canopies, street furnishings, finely crafted signage, and paving textures combine to welcome visitors and invite them to linger, and explore the meandering alleys and quaint shops, drawing them to the water’s edge.
Commercial enterprises also present the opportunity to showcase locally produced goods and services, as well as employing local residents, contributing to a stronger local economy. The Quay will include a day use dock, boat launch and much requested Paddling Centre. While the primary focus of commercial activity in the Quay will be on artist live-work spaces, traditional commercial enterprises will also be considered.
The upper-floors of this mixed-use area will include residential units which can be configured for couples, seniors, families, or even live/work accommodation. Further from the foreshore, towards Sechelt Inlet Road, multi-unit residences will ensure optimum use of the amenities provided in the Quay.
The "Sunshine Coast Academy"
The Sunshine Coast Academy (SCA) will be a leading international boarding school consisting of 600 grade 7 to 12 students at maximum capacity. The anchor for the entire 420-acre development, the SCA will be BC Ministry of Education certified and offer both the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement curriculum options.
The unique school structure itself will model 21st century green school design and will function not only as a house for education, but as a teaching tool that enhances student learning. Students will come from around the world and will learn through project and inquiry based learning, working on solving real-world problems while meeting the graduation criteria mandated by the Ministry of Education.
Without question, SCA will be the most advanced, sustainably designed high school in the country; a model for future school designs.
Age-In-Place Senior Community
Towards the back of the Quay, the development anticipates a comprehensive multi-level residential community designed to facilitate “aging-in-place”. It will include a complete range of options from stand-alone cottages to independent/supported living facilities, to multi-unit assisted living accommodation, to complex residential and palliative care. This will allow residents to remain in their neighbourhood as their needs and family situations change.
Foxwood Community Living
Built around shared community gardens and child play spaces, the Foxwood area will provide an opportunity for those seeking environmental and cost efficient living. Smaller dwellings or duplexes, clustered around shared amenities will provide spaces for rich social integration. Shared garden spaces, children’s play areas and a safe pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood and a low-profile road network is envisaged. The aim is to provide innovative, low operating cost dwellings, attractive to young families and those seeking a smaller environmental footprint. Alternative designs, such as “Conservation Designs A and B” included in the OCP will be considered to preserve large areas of open space and reduce road construction, while providing the same number of housing units
Artisan Place is a neighbourhood of larger, mixed size rural residential, live/work lots. With a distinctly rural feeling this neighbourhood will attract creative families with new and existing business ideas. Artisan Place will be a neighbourhood where all residents will appreciate the expectation and understanding that, like them, their neighbours will be creating home-based products for sale in the local market and globally.
With a live and let live, creative atmosphere this area will be designed to satisfy the needs of the new economy. Whether producing goat cheese, picture frames, high value crafts, or clean technologies, all low-impact enterprises will be welcomed here. With a simple rural road network and slightly higher levels of on-street parking, Artisan Place residents will draw visitors and will contribute to the economic vibrancy and diversity of Sechelt.
Vineyard Ranch Estates
Built around future rural recreation facilities, people will gather with friends and family to enjoy the social and health benefits of an active lifestyle. Both residents and visitors alike will enjoy outdoor life. These facilities will become an amenity to the entire community with a mix of lot sizes to accommodate both full-time and weekend enthusiasts. On the rural multi-use pathways, you are just as likely to encounter your neighbours on horseback as jogging, walking or cycling. These homes, many of which overlook the vineyard or outdoor centre, will provide a sense of privacy.
Inlet Heights provides homes amongst the trees high above Sechelt Inlet, with views that reach across the Georgia Straight to the peaks of Vancouver Island. This area will feature exclusive, well-spaced homes with a high standard for innovation and architectural design. Residents will enjoy a strong connection with nature, in a community that nurtures the relationships of friends and family. Inlet Heights will become a rare enclave of mountain home sites, seamlessly blending with the natural surrounding environment, maximizing the advantages of solar orientation, panoramic views and varied terrain.
The Agricultural Area will form a significant part of the Development. How and where food is produced has a significant impact on sustainability. The average meal can travel up to 1,200 km from the farm to plate; perhaps even more for a community like Sechelt. Similar to other areas of the Development, the Agricultural Area will demonstrate the best practices of local, organic food production, reducing emissions from transportation, lessening the importation of “high value-added water”, creating local jobs in agriculture and improving options for local diet and beverage enthusiasts. Opportunities for wider participation in “WWOOFer” (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) tourism and educational opportunities for Sunshine Coast Academy students are also planned.
Eco-Education and Adventure Centre(s)
The Angus Creek ravine and surrounding area on the south-east corner of the site and the land adjacent to the Heritage Forest to the north will be set aside for potential Eco-Education and Adventure Centres. These areas will combine the best features of facilities like the North Shore Credit Union Outdoor Learning Centre, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and UBC’s Greenheart Canopy Walkway. By providing visitors with a deeper appreciation of nature while enjoying the excitement of the outdoors, these facilities will add yet another inspirational recreation attraction to Sechelt. It will combine ecological and experiential education to create a truly unique adventure experience such as observation platforms during seasonal salmon returns.
What's in it for Sechelt?
When approved, the Development will provide numerous benefits that will substantially enhance Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast. Parks, Greenways, Trails and Protected Area Amenities
The Development will preserve and enhance the natural features of the site and provide public access to a wide array of new venues. This will include 534m of public access to best shoreline on the Sechelt Inlet, as well as open patios and community areas.
It will also preserve 37 acres of key riparian areas along Shannon Creek and Angus Creek, create 8.25 kms of Multi-Use Paths and 1.4 kms of Nature Trails. Finally, it will encompass the remediation of the Angus Creek Ravine.
In total, the Site will contribute more than 60 hectares of new natural public spaces in the form of waterfronts, parks, paths, trails and viewpoints. This includes:
Multi-Use Paths 3.4 ha
Ocean Walk Quay Bioswale 0.3 ha
Age-in-Place Park 1.0 ha
Dry Gulch Park 11.3 ha
Foxwood Park 1.3 ha
Inlet Heights Park 2.2 ha
Waterfall/Waterfront Park 1.6 ha
Wetlands Park 1.7 ha
Other Green Spaces 0.8 ha
Parks and Public Spaces 23.5 ha
Riparian Setbacks and Steep Slopes 37.3 ha
Total 60.8 ha
The Plan also includes new trail access to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, the Sechelt Heritage Forest and BC Crown lands. Finally, the Plan will remediate significant areas where invasive vegetative species (Himalayan blackberry, Scotch broom, etc.) were noted in the Environmental Assessment.
Several other significant community contributions will be provided under the new zoning. For example, the Foxwood Community Living Areas will include the provision of cost-efficient rental housing, a Paddling Centre and a public, day-use dock. The Plan also sets aside a small lot for a future Emergency Response Depot.
Tax Revenues and Development Cost Charge Benefits
The Development will provide an unprecedented level of new revenue to support local government’s provision of services. One-time Development Cost Charges for up to 1,360 new properties, could amount to almost $15 million. Recurring annual tax revenues to The District of Sechelt, the SCRD and others could exceed an annuity of $20 million per year. This includes substantial increases in school, fire protection, hospital, recreation, garbage, water and sewer revenues.
Business and Employment Benefits
The Development is designed to provide a major economic stimulus for Sechelt, through the “jobs first” philosophy. When approved, preliminary estimates indicate that almost 1,400 potential new long-term jobs, in a variety of professions and skill sets, will be created.