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Development company presenting plans to rezone Galloway Lands near Fernie

Handshake Holdings Inc., the company behind a proposal to rezone 457 acres near Fernie, will be hosting an open house for the public to learn about the planned project.

The area is located just outside of Fernie, on the southeast slopes of the Lizard Range and north of Fernie Alpine Resort.

Developer Reto Barrington said, if approved, the land will be divided into lots for potential property buyers to build on.

“It is a conservation subdivision design, which intends to cluster housing into building groupings, so you can retain as much of the parcel as open space and common property that is not developed or touched as you possibly can,” said Barrington. “In our case, the 457 acres will have roughly 70 per cent of the land protected by either covenant or no-build restrictions that will be placed on the property.”

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Barrington explained sites will be an average of three acres in size, with only about half open for clearing to allow for construction, while keeping the rest forested.

According to Barrington, opinions of what to do with the land are mixed.

“We get responses from some people that say the land should be developed into a much higher density because the official community plan (OCP) of the Elk Valley from 2014 identifies the majority of this land as resort expansion area,” said Barrington. 

“The City of Fernie, on the other side, seems to be suggesting they would like higher density residential use for this property, even though it’s not in the city. They have expressed aspirations of having it annexed into the city, which we have not expressed any interest in doing.”

If the Galloway Lands were approved for rezoning, Barrington said it would be the first conservation subdivision in the region.

“We’re doing 75 lots on this property, and allocating it down to 220 acres, so roughly 50 per cent of the lot is a common lot or conservation lot, that has restrictions on title that are in favour of the regional district,” said Barrington. “We are producing a funding mechanism to ensure we have public trails, both the ones that exist and ones we plan to produce, paid for by a lot charge mechanism.”

He said a percentage of money from each lot sold would go into an environmental fund that would provide money to build and maintain the trails.

So far, the rezoning application has been sent into the Regional District of East Kootenay and was looked over by the advisory committee, but has yet to go through first reading by the board.

Barrington said the proposal will reach the board for the first time in the upcoming RDEK meeting on Thursday, Jan. 13.

Before that meeting, however, the development company is hosting an open house, aimed at sharing information about the planned project with the public.

The event will be held via Zoom, and give attendees a chance to ask questions about the proposal.

It will be scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday. A registration link can be found below.

More: Galloway Lands open house registration (Handshake Holdings Inc.)

More: Galloway Lands application (Handshake Holdings Inc. and CH Nelson Holdings Ltd)

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