Lantzville signs terms to revive Foothills project

NANAIMO – Memorandum of understanding called "major coup" by Lantzville mayor.

A new memorandum of understanding with developers of the Lantzville Foothills Estates is a “major coup” for the community, according to Mayor Jack de Jong.

The District of Lantzville has inked an MOU with Lone Tree Properties, the company behind the revival of a 730-hectare housing project. The document was made public Sept. 8 after council signed the water agreement with the City of Nanaimo, and is seen as a step forward for the multimillion-dollar development.

While the developer has said it’s found water on site, the terms of the MOU allow it to negotiate for up to 16 new connections annually to Nanaimo’s system in the event it can’t provide water to meet district standards.

A phased development agreement will put timelines on infrastructure, services and amenities and protect developers from approval reversals – a measure the company has considered critical.

In return, Lone Tree has agreed to build a 1.4-million-gallon reservoir, provide $6 million in additional infrastructure funding and dedicate 364 hectares of continuous park. It will also provide another 81 hectares in fee-simple land to the community, plus property for a new fire hall and public works yard.

De Jong said he’s certain both parties are satisfied with the outcome, and called the land, amenities and financial benefits much better than previous proposals. The parkland, nearly equivalent to the size of Stanley Park, sets a model for negotiation with developers.

“Parkland can be obtained if a community is prepared to sacrifice some density and I think for the future of the Island this is important. We’ve got to conserve land,” he said.

The Lantzville Foothills Estates was proposed in 2004 but has run into obstacles, including foreclosure and the struggle to find adequate water.

Lone Tree became the sole owner of the property last December and announced that it believes it has found enough water to support the project.

The company’s chief executive officer, Allard Ockeloen, has urged politicians to reopen development agreement talks, and while he’spleased the district has come to an arrangement with the company, there’s also still a great deal of work that has to occur.

“It means that the district and … Lone Tree have come to an understanding as to how to move forward, but there’s still a public process ahead of us,” he said. “So it could mean everything or it could mean nothing.”

Council signed the MOU on Sept. 4. Lone Tree plans to host open houses to inform residents about the proposal and will resume water exploration this fall.