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Ucluelet gets ready to recommission site services to Onni Wyndansea lands

Mayor Noel presses on for a comprehensive development plan
After over a decade of sitting vacant, the District of Ucluelet is preparing to recommission site services to Onni Wyndansea lands on the outskirts of town. (Andrew Bailey photo)

The District of Ucluelet is preparing to turn the lights on at Wyndansea.

During the Oct. 12 regular meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of allocating roughly $70,000 in the 2022 operational budget to recommission site services including water, sewer, streetlights and fire for phase one of Onni Group’s Signature Circle development.

“We aren’t absolutely certain of when facilities will be required at that site however we are anticipating the developer will have those constraints removed perhaps in 2022,” said James Macintosh, Ucluelet’s director of engineering.

When the Wyndansea golf course development went bankrupt almost a decade ago, District of Ucluelet drained all the water lines, turned the lights off, and blocked road access.

Onni Group, a real estate development corporation based out of Vancouver, purchased the bankrupt Wyndansea lands in 2015. 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 in April 2021 made a request to turn the services on by Sept. 1, 2021 so they could market and sell the Signature Circle lots.

Mayor Noel and council called the request “premature” and sent Onni back to the drawing board, requesting they submit a comprehensive development plan for the property that encapsulates public beach access as well as outlines traffic safety mitigations for the intersection of Florencia Drive and Peninsula Highway.

Moreover, Mayor Noel put forward a motion on April 14 to downzone the Wyndansea lands to a rural designation, which would significantly limit Onni’s development capacity for the lots.

READ: Ucluelet council sends Onni Group back to the drawing board

Onni Group expressed their strong opposition to the rural zoning designation, and in a June 8, 2021 letter stated they would “challenge the adoption of the bylaws and the District’s decision(s) to withhold approvals.”

Onni Group representive Rob Vrooman addressed council via Zoom Video during a Sept. 7 public hearing.

“We are strongly opposed to the rural designation and feel that this represents a major step in the wrong direction for the Wyndansea site and the community of Ucluelet more broadly,” said Vrooman.

“I think the exchange of our legal opinions have made it clear the path that this would lead to and I don’t think it’s one that leads to good housing outcomes for the community,” he went on to say.

Council adopted the motion to downzone Onni Wyndansea lands to a rural designation on Sept. 9, 2021. Prior to the rezoning, Onni Wyndansea Holdings had submitted 29 building permit applications (one for each of the Signature Circle lots). The 29 building permits were withheld for a period of 60 days, and all the did not comply with the low-density rural residential designation.

Mayor Noel said it’s unfortunate that they had to downzone the property, but he thinks council made the right decision for the community.

“We just need to have a comprehensive plan on how things could look out there and to date we haven’t seen anything. I’ve been saying that since day one,” said Noel.

“If it’s not on paper, it doesn’t mean anything to the community. This community has had a lot of developers come and go and the district ends up holding the empty bag with a bunch of false promises. I refuse to have that happen under my watch,” he said.

Onni Group chief of staff Duncan Wlodarczak​ said they are disappointed with council’s decision to downzone the property.

“We are still reviewing our legal options. Our preference would be to work with mayor, council, the community, different stakeholders, other levels of government, to come to the best proposal,” said Wlodarczak.

“We are still open to working with the municipality and we are going to keep looking forward. Is there a way we can get to a proposal that works for everybody?” he said.

Wlodarczak told theWesterly News that Onni has had conversations with BC Housing and the local MLA to see about collaborating on affordable housing solutions for the Wyndansea lands.

“There was a land use concept that we put out in late 2018. The reality is that 2018 was a long time ago. Now we need to get into that and talk about how we can deliver more housing solutions that the community needs among other things. We were actively working on a (comprehensive development plan) until the other week. Now we need to see what does this mean going forward. That’s kind of where we are at today,” said Wlodarczak.

According to Wlodarczak, Onni Group is not considering selling the land, and they are still committed to working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the District of Ucluelet to build the safest road access off the highway to Wyndansea.

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

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READ: Ucluelet housing costs soar as demand outpaces supply

Nora O'Malley

About the Author: Nora O'Malley

Nora O'Malley studied journalism at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
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