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Motel, RV park proposed in Popkum development

A three-storey motel, restaurant, convenience store and gasoline station are being eyed in a rezoning application south of the Highway 9 traffic roundabout in Popkum.

And redevelopment of the former Dinotown theme park in Bridal Falls is finally getting underway with construction of a clubhouse for a strata RV park expected to start next month.

But the application to rezone the 2.9-hectare (seven-acre) property at 53003 Bunker Rd. has some hurdles yet to clear, including a public hearing and issues around traffic and septic treatment.

There have been two earlier commercial development proposals of the property, one in 1993 for a similar motel, retail, restaurant and retail complex, but it was not approved by the B.C. Transportation Ministry.

A traffic study is “critical” to the success of the current project, FVRD staff said in a report, because of its proximity to the Highway 9 roundabout.

The area is identified for commercial development in the Popkum-Bridal Falls official community plan, which also calls for a pedestrian underpass as “a required component of any significant commercial development” east of Highway 9.

An FVRD study also said an underpass in that location is a “priority” to complete the community’s linear trail system.

Fraser Health Authorities and the B.C. environment ministry must review the proposed septic system.

The applicant is proposing to develop the property in stages, starting with the gas station and convenience store.

A second development proposal for the property in 2001 was also similar, but a key part of that project was a fueling facility for commercial transport trucks, which the community objected to, and so it was abandoned by the applicant.

The site is part of a larger 17-acre property that was split in two by construction of Highway 9. It was used for housing and farming until the late ‘80s, but has been vacant since the early ‘90s.

Redevelopment of the Dinotown property at 53480 Bridal Falls Rd. has proved a rocky road for the new owners.

Tri-Star Development Group principal Ron Sturm said he is dismayed that it took more than two years to get approval for a project that will turn “a tired, beat-up children’s park into a world-class facility that people can enjoy for years to come.”

He said the proposal needed only a “minor” change in zoning to build a 200-lot bare land strata campground holiday park.

Sturm credited Popkum area director Bill Dickey and FVRD general manager of community and regulatory services Suzanne Gresham for their support of the project.

Dickey said in a report to the board that the Popkum-Bridal Falls community supported the application, and that it will have a “positive impact” on the local economy.

Gresham said in a separate report that despite staff concerns “the interests of the community at large should prevail.”

“On balance, it appears to me that the Bridal Falls business community is very desirous of ensuring that there are continued opportunities for economic development in the area, both now and in the future,” she said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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