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Ucluelet council sends Onni Group back to the drawing board

Requests to open up stalled Wyndansea lands denied
Onni Group representative Robert Vrooman addresses Ucluelet mayor and council and district staff during the April 14 regular meeting via Zoom. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Ucluelet’s mayor and council shut down two requests April 14 from developer Onni Group to open up the stalled Wyndansea property on the outskirts of town.

On March 25, 2021, Onni Group sent a formal request to district staff asking for permission to erect a new billboard real estate sign at the entrance of the property. The international real estate development company had also asked the municipality to have a “fully commissioned and functioning public road, sewer, water, and street light service within the public right-of-way that leads to the private strata road at Signature Circle by no later than September 1st, 2021.”

Mayor Mayco Noel said of the requests: “Turning on water and sewer and putting up a for sale I think is very premature. I’m not supportive of either one of them. Expecting us or myself to agree to the conditions of the recommendations that you are asking for without seeing a full phased approach is difficult because our predecessors tried to do that before.”

In 2015, Onni Group purchased the bankrupt Wyndansea golf course development. The roughly 360 acres of property includes a 25-acre Signature Circle with 30 bare land strata lots. Onni owns 29 of the 30 lots and was eager to move forward with the marketing and sales of the remaining lots.

“We know the site has been sitting for a long time. We are excited to get things moving,” said Onni Group representative Robert Vrooman during the April 14 council meeting.

However, before granting public access to the Signature Circle subdivision, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure confirmed with district staff that a permit would need to be issued to erect a new for sale sign and improvements would need to be made to the intersection.

Coun. Jennifer Hoar expressed concern.

“While you may think 30 lots does not require changes to the intersection, my partner came very close to being involved in a major accident at that intersection when someone chose to turn left to park. He was driving a large gravel truck and had to slam the brakes on and come to a complete stop on that hill. He was very close to running down the car in front of him. That’s with minimal traffic let alone 30 lots developed,” said Hoar.

Public access to the shoreline was also questioned by Wild Pacific Trail Society board members.

“The trail society is eager to work with the Onni Group, district planners and council in creating a spectacular trail corridor at Wyandansea. Together we can build the Wild Pacific Trail all the way to the National Park Reserve. Wyndansea is the critical missing link to achieving that dream. The community has waited 15 years, the best first step would be to open routes in advance of development. It has been shown, property near an existing coastal trail has a higher value than a lot next to a line on a map. The community deserves to finally see the trail extended to preserve this precious coastline for future generations,” wrote Schramm in an email to the Westerly.

Noel reinforced the need to see a detailed plan from the developer by putting a motion forward to downzone the Wyndansea lands to a rural zoning designation.

“We have to do what’s best for the community not for the landowner. Right now there is one landowner. I would not want to see any of the lots sold without a comprehensive plan including amenities,” he said.

District staff will continue to work with Onni Group, the Ministry of Transport and the Wild Pacific Trail Society to determine next steps to open up services to the Signature Circle subdivision.

The council meeting was recorded and can be viewed on the government’s YouTube channel.

RELATED: Massive housing development proposed at bankrupt golf site in Ucluelet

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