Courtenay campsite lawsuit ‘most stressful, emotional issue’

Courtenay councillors wrestling with issues involving campsite that provides affordable housing.

A court case involving the City of Courtenay and the owners of a local campsite that provides affordable housing is among the most difficult issues Doug Hillian has faced during his time in office.

The city councillor has forwarded a motion calling for no forced evictions from Maple Pool Campsite, regardless of the outcome of a court decision about zoning and land use at the Headquarters Road property.

Mindful of legal issues to be resolved, Hillian’s primary concern is to “find a way to move forward” and to ensure the 54 Maple Pool tenants have a place to live.

The campsite flooded in 2009 and 2010. The following year, the City initiated legal action against property owners Dali and Jin Lin. According to former City CAO Sandy Gray, zoning prohibits the couple from housing people at Maple Pool, which sits in a floodplain.

“This for me, without doubt, is the most stressful, emotional issue I’ve dealt with (as a police officer or politician),” Mayor Larry Jangula said Monday. “These are some of the most disenfranchised people in the Comox Valley. It troubles me very deeply. It’s not an easy issue to resolve. We need to give these people some closure.”

An in-camera session preceded Monday’s meeting. The Lins and several Maple Pool tenants were among a packed gallery for the public portion of the meeting.

Coun. Jon Ambler considers Hillian’s resolution laudable, but is concerned council might have a change of heart after going forward. He suggested delaying the resolution to ensure 100 per cent accuracy.

“It is a difficult path to find our way through,” Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard said. “We have to do it together.”

Hillian appreciates the resolution puts staff in a difficult position but also puts council in a position to discuss the issue at open meetings. Nevertheless, he motioned to defer the resolution, noting the absence of Couns. Bill Anglin and Starr Winchester.

Jangula cast the lone vote against the motion to defer.

Staff will report back next month.


Comox Valley Record