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Drinking water found by Lantzville Foothills developer

The company behind the Foothills Estates believes it’s discovered enough water to support a mega housing project – and ‘all the needs’ of Lantzville.

B.C.-based Lone Tree Properties made its first public appearance during a Lantzville council meeting Monday, as it appealed to politicians to reopen development agreement talks.

According to Allard Ockeloen, chief executive officer of Lone Tree, the development agreement is ‘broken’ and needs changes before the project moves ahead, including a contract that prevents politicians from down-zoning the property after the district has been given amenities and parkland. He also underscored the need for a joint water strategy, announcing the company believes it’s discovered enough water to create a sustainable water system that ‘could be built to address all the needs of Lantzville.’

Ockeloen wants the district to help direct the company’s investment, including whether it should spend dollars on infrastructure needed under a new water-sharing agreement with Nanaimo or focus on building its own system.

“My point yesterday was start talking with us ... [and] work on this together as opposed to us behaving without any instruction or guidance,” Ockeloen said.

Lone Tree Properties became the sole owner of the Foothills property last December, after spending more than a year in the courts trying to acquire the front-end parcel from the foreclosed Lantzville Foothills Estates Inc.

The success – a $6-million cost to the company – removed an obstacle for Lone Tree, which wasn’t able to agree with the other landowner over issues like density sharing and latecomer agreements.

The company is also confident that adequate water supply has also been found, prompting it to ask the district to reopen negotiations and discuss a resource strategy.

A hydrology report has not been delivered to the district, but Ockeloen reported one test well yielded 115 US gallons of potable water per minute. The discovery means Lone Tree doesn’t necessarily need water from the City of Nanaimo and could have a bargaining chip if Lantzville opts out of the water-sharing deal. But ideally, Lantzville will accept Nanaimo’s offer, Ockeloen said, adding it’s a ‘much superior long-term strategy.’

“Creating our own water system to specifically deal with our ... development and perhaps some of upper Lantzville is a different strategy than connecting the region and then addressing water from a regional basis and participating on a much larger scale,” he said. “I think both need to work.”

Ockeloen offered to pay for the Nanaimo water connection, adding the district would have likely made them contribute anyway. He hopes the bid could win the company the first 50 connections offered as part of the resource-sharing deal. The company, like other potential developers, could “supplement that system by building our own sources as well.”

The company is also seeking to talk about the shape and size of dedicated parkland, right of ways and density. It is also seeking a ‘critical’ phased development agreement, which would offer timelines for the infrastructure, services and amenities and help protect developers from approval reversals.

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