Aquadel redevelopment moves closer

Cultus Lake South could see significant growth in the next few years with more than 130 new homes proposed in the area near Lindell Beach.

The former Aquadel Golf Course

The former Aquadel Golf Course

Cultus Lake South could see significant growth in the next few years with more than 130 new homes proposed in the resort area near Lindell Beach.

Two separate rezoning notices for public hearings were issued by Fraser Valley Regional District this week, painting a future vision of steadily increasing development in the Columbia Valley.

The largest of the two rezonings is a proposed comprehensive resort residential development zone for a project called Aquadel Gardens at Cultus Lake.

The Aquadel project could see a maximum of 127 dwellings built on the sprawling former golf course property measuring 10.3 hectares. The zoning would go from rural to CD1, and the project would be low density with 12.5 units per hectare.

A smaller rezoning project, Phase 4 of the Cottages at Cultus Lake, would see 10 new strata lots developed and one fee-simple parcel on Frost Road. That rezoning hearing is slated for Feb. 18, and would change the zoning from rural to Campground Holiday Park.

Planning for the Aquadel project on Columbia Valley Road has been in the works for a couple of years now since the golf course closed.

“My family has owned the property for 60 years, and operated a golf course on it for 43 of those years. But the golf course wasn’t financially viable,” explained property owner Dick Whitlam.

“We’re the last piece of property in Cultus Lake South that hasn’t been developed, so it’s only natural that we would go in this direction.”

Whitlam emphasized he’s not a developer per se.

“This is me with a big piece of property trying to come up with a plan that works,” he told The Progress.

It is important to the family to maintain the historic Aquadel name, he said, and to keep the mixed use project “synonymous with the beauty of the area,” with possible plans for park land and trails being added as amenities.

In fact 20 per cent of the land would be devoted to amenities under the new zoning.

“One of the things we’re looking at is a community park and a trail to Maple Bay,” added Whitlam.

The rezoning hearing for the Aquadel project is set for Feb. 22, but there is a sliver of doubt that it will actually go ahead as scheduled.

Discussions were underway this month between the proponent and the neighbours in the surrounding communities about certain aspects of the mixed use plan.

“It takes time to get everyone on board,” said Whitlam. “We won’t know (about the rezoning) for a couple of days. But I’m very optimistic we can make some changes.”

If the Feb. 22 rezoning ultimately gets cancelled for a retooling, it could mean the process would be delayed until March or April, he said.

There is recognition on an inter-municipal level that the project constitutes a “major development” for the area.

City of Chilliwack officials commented to FVRD in a response summary last November on how its interests might be affected by the development, by noting that “permanent residences are on the rise” given the area’s popularity, with subsequent demand for more access and road capacity, as well as questions about sewerage capacity and treatment.

“In the case of permanent residents, their rising needs for services (such as health care, shopping, personal and business services, libraries, indoor recreation and other civic facilities)will further impact Chilliwack’s overall infrastructure. “From our City’s perspective, a comprehensive ‘subregional’ plan for the Columbia Valley, including all resort facilities (Cultus Lake and the provincial parks) and affected parties, would be an effective instrument to explore those issues.

“Our goal is to be prepared for the future growth and critical development trends, and not be surprise by development creeps, both seasonal and permanent.”

Whitlam said the plan is to service future Aquadel properties with water from an underground aquifer through a Corix utility, and the sewerage would be through FVRD, with plans for a Class A treatment plant, “with zero effect on the environment,” Whitlam said.

What about impacts on Chilliwack infrastructure?

“I don’t think it will have any impact on the city’s infrastructure, and the traffic impact will be negligible,” he said.

A traffic study showed that even in peak periods, the local traffic only accounts for 13 per cent of the traffic through Cultus Lake.

“So the communities being built will add very little to that. The rest of the traffic is from the Lower Mainland.”