Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | October 8, 2011

I Would Never Have Guessed

If I didn’t read it with my own eyes, I would have suggested someone had lost their mind. Well now that I have read it, that still may be the case.

The Vancouver-based developer spending $100 million on infrastructure for the largest development on Vancouver Island says choosing the Comox Valley for the “instant town” was a no-brainer.

“The Comox Valley represents the most affordable land prices in B.C.,” says John Evans, president of Trilogy Corp. who has been inviting other developers and home builders to join in Trilogy’s 290-hectare Cayet development at Cumberland, about 6 km. west of Courtenay. The development plan calls for a huge shopping centre, office and institutional space and more than 1,000 homes.

Evans, who once led the development of Whistler Village, says land values in the Comox Valley are much lower than anywhere south of Nanaimo on the Island, and “much lower” than in the Lower Mainland or the Central Okanagan.

Aside from low land prices, Cayet evolved from the fact that the village of Cumberland was the only Island municipality that refused to sign an agreement to provide a 300-metre (1,000-foot) commercial set back from the Island Highway freeway when it was built a decade ago. The province had requested the set back to deter signage and strip malls along the Highway that runs down the centre of the Island from Nanaimo to Campbell River.

As a result, Trilogy is allowed to build along nearly 3 km. of highway frontage at Cumberland and about 2 km. along the connecting Comox Valley Parkway. The company will cover the $52 million cost of the twin interchanges that will link Cayet to the highways.

Evans says he has had “positive response” to the project from 50 developers, primarily home building companies. “The residential will come first, then the retail will follow,” he says. Seven Alberta companies have registered with Trilogy to look at sites to build on, he says.

“We’re basically building a fully integrated new community with commercial zoning, institutional, residential, mixed-use,” said Evans. “The full range of uses have been approved for development.”

Zoning permits up to 1,350 residential units on various parcels from apartments to townhouses and 600 single-family homes. Zoning also allows for more than 800,000 square feet of shops and services, including a hotel and casino. A new regional hospital for the Comox Valley is also planned for Cayet.

The Cayet site is former forestry land and the final development will retain 50 per cent of the land as green space, Evans said. A Coast Visitor Discovery Centre is currently the only building underway on the site. Evans expect construction of the first phase to start early in 2012.

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