Regional district directors gave preliminary approval Thursday to a 45-lot subdivision at the former Lac le Jeune ski hill, despite unanimous opposition from residents who packed a public hearing.
Residents expressed concerns about current water shortages and prospects of degrading already worsening water quality in Lac le Jeune, a popular fishing and recreational lake.
Robert Brown, a resident and professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University in ecology, called an environmental report prepared for the developer “incomplete, and in some instances outright misleading.”
The report commissioned by developer Derick MacDonald said addition of 45 more homes to the 100 or so already at the lake will not affect water quality, provided housing is kept 60 metres from the lake.
Brown said pine beetle kill has degraded Lac le Jeune so it’s “almost not fishable anymore.”
Residents also expressed grave concerns about water supply. Homeowners draw water from wells and the lake. Many said supplies are limited.
Hugh Burton, a former university biology professor who lives in the rural community, said addition of 45 more homes will place too much pressure on the aquifer and threatens to draw down the lake.
“Water flows downhill. If you take water from the aquifer, you lower the water table bit by bit.”
About 25 residents attended the public hearing. None spoke in favour.
“We’re not opposed to the development,” said David Wyse, president of the Lac le Jeune Conservation Association. “We don’t think due diligence has happened to ensure the water supply can be sustained. We can’t compromise on that.”
Gregg Lindros, a consultant working for MacDonald, outlined plans to the regional district board. They include dedicating a 170-acre park that would be transferred to the TNRD.
Access through former ski hill runs to the backcountry would remain.
Lindros also said the developer has confidence there is enough water to supply new residents.
“There’s been preliminary studies that confirm viability of the groundwater source.”
The regional district has the ability to refuse the subdivision should further studies fail to confirm sufficient water supply.
The property is the site of a former ski hill that operated until 1992. MacDonald continues to operate Lac le Jeune Resort & Conference Centre at the location.
He told reporters following the meeting he would like to begin selling the lots, at a minimum of one acre, as early as next summer. MacDonald, who lives in Lac le Jeune, said he also wants to meet further with residents to deal with their concerns and has additional approvals to obtain.
Target prices for the lots is $200,000 to $300,000.