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Greenquest is a term describing our search for appropriate, environmentally sensitive, land use based on an understanding of the land.
Within our three objectives certain themes influenced our land use planning and the type of lots that we needed to produce. These factors that we sought to emphasize and that we felt were likely to be priorities for those seeking property on Thetis were:
Views, sunshine, natural beauty, access to waterfront, tranquility, a rural lifestyle, gardening, outdoor recreation - both land and water based, family life, cottage/cabin retreats, retirement and, by inference, the privacy necessary to enjoy these benefits.
We have planned the land use in Meadow Valley to achieve these objectives and address these themes. Our strata plan was based on detailed study of the land involved and a familiarity of many years living on that land. In the latter stages of our planning process a widely experienced landscape architect, Michael Bocking, helped us to pull our ideas together into a presentation of the plan.
Our land use plan addresses our Greenquest philosophy. It provides properties of distinction with significant infrastructure in a beautiful setting, we know that these properties will meet the priorities of those seeking a place on Thetis.
Below you can read about how we went about the planning process and view some images of the plan.
The sections, listed below, about our planning have thumbnails with links to drawings (by Michael Bocking) representing the history of the various plan stages.
There are four drawings:
Follow those thumbnail links, below, for individual drawings, or follow this link, which will open a new window with a page with all the drawings and a large scale plan drawing of meadow Valley. To be able to see details on the drawings, the images must be large--this is why we have separated them. We suggest using the links that open them in a new browser window, as this will allow having them there for reference to the text--unless you are using a multi pane browser. The images will take a while to load if you have a slow connection, so please just keep reading while they do (another advantage of using a new window or multipane browser).
This sub-section is repeated in condensed form on our "Properties" page.
The Meadow Valley is at the center of Thetis Island, stretching from the picturesque southern edge Old Coast Bluff overlooking grazing lands and meadows near to Pilkey Point Road in the south about a mile to waterfront on ecologically important Cufra Inlet at the North. Our 206 acre site extends the length of this valley and forms a large part of it's watershed, providing an integrated management unit for our Strata. The image, below, shows Meadow Valley in relation to Thetis and will provide you with the locations of roads, etc. Please see "Detail Map" images page for a better quality image. Scroll down below the image for further details.
Meadow Valley, Thetis
Thetis Island (for details see our "Thetis Island" page) is situated centrally in the Pacific Northwest Coastal region, the region termed "Cascadia", Thetis has the characteristics of that bioregion, a climate with a mediterranean combination of mild winters and warm, dry summers support a unique ecosystem and provide an ideal environment for gardening and outdoor recreation. Thetis Island is in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island, having an annual rainfall of about 850 mm (33 inches) - far dryer than Vancouver or Seattle. This climate is common to the Southern Gulf Islands, and the Saanich peninsula/Victoria (B.C.) area, supporting the unique arbutus/Garry Oak ecosystem as well as endearing the area to gardeners and those escaping the wetter climes of Vancouver and Seattle. As a small island, Thetis has proportionally more waterfront/foreshore ecosystem and more moderating effect from the ocean. In terms of human geography, Thetis is relatively undiscovered and undeveloped, with an atmosphere of rural seclusion and tranquility, although it has remarkably good connectivity to major centers.
The main feature of the property is the Meadow valley which extends south from Cufra Inlet. A large marsh (Apple Marsh), small fen (Willow Fen), and a seasonal stream (Meadow Creek) flowing from Willow Fen at the south through Apple Marsh to Cufra Inlet at the north occupy the valley. The property forms a large part of the watershed of the Meadow Creek. From a narrow bench above Cufra Inlet, the land rises sharply east up to Pilkey Point Road. To the west and southwest of Apple Marsh, the land rises more gradually up to two low hills. South and southwest of Willow Fen the ground rises to the southern edge of the property where it falls abruptly away over bluffs, the base of which define the boundary. From the top of the bluffs one looks over an agricultural valley and salt marsh toward Vancouver Island in the west. Sandstone bluffs associated with steep slopes provide opportunities for views in several areas of the site.
Cedar groves surround a creek drainage and marsh along the west boundary of the property. The majority of the site is heavily wooded with Douglas Fir, mixed with Balsam Fir, Alder, Maple, and Cedar in low areas, and with Arbutus on upper slopes. The property has been selectively logged in the past, the last time for the majority being about 70 years ago. Several large specimen Douglas firs and maples are found on the property. Open grass fields are situated northwest of the marsh and near the southeast property boundary, in an area which was formerly used for sheep farming.
Casual observation of the site since 1984 was augmented with more detailed survey and site investigation using consultants (Hydrogeological, Geotechnical, Engineering and a Biology) and recorded information and resource maps.
Through these methods we identified "resource" or "sensitive" areas (wet areas, steep slopes, vegetation features to be protected, wildlife habitat, biodiversity enhancement opportunities), suitable areas for water supply and enhancement of water resources, for sewage disposal, areas suitable for agriculture and gardening and areas suitable for residential use. See also the above site description.
To see a drawing representing the conclusions of our landscape analysis, please follow this link which will open the drawing in a new window for easy reference.
If you don't want to use a new window, follow this link.
Survey information and digitized mapping data were used to form an appreciation of the landforms and the distribution of land types. This information combined to present a "land capability classification" which, as the beginning of the land use plan, underpinned further planning decisions.
A search of the property was made to identify potential house sites. From 35 possible sites, 20 house sites were selected, and an equal number of accessory cabin sites were located. This number is based on the site's R-2 zoning, which allows one house and one cabin per 10 acres.
Criteria for site selection included accessibility, privacy from neighbors, views, land suitability and type and degree of natural light (with a strong priority given to southern or southwestern exposure). Care was taken to avoid feature trees and sensitive areas. The result is a variety of forested and open sites with good views and solar exposure.
To see a drawing representing an overview of our exploration of potential house sites, access and servicing planning process, please follow this link which will open the drawing in a new window for easy reference.
If you don't want to use a new window, follow this link.
House sites tend to be gathered in the north and southwest parts of the property, leaving much of the central area as common greenspace and for large lots. In the case of some lots house sites will be fixed by the use of a building scheme to ensure privacy for neighbors, view corridors, etc..
Access to the property is from Kenwood Drive in the northwest and Klahowya Road in the south. Pilkey Point Road forms the northeastern boundary and services one house site (Distant Hills, lot 7). A dedicated road allowance extends from the end of Mission Road to the southwest corner of the site, an existing trail follows the approximate line of this dedication. A number of old and overgrown pioneer forest access roadways pre-existed on the site. Where feasible, new roads and driveways are designed to follow these existing routes. Many of the remaining old overgrown forest access roadways provide the basis of an internal walking trail network.
A conventional subdivision would result in public roads, to be built to a 50-km/hour highway standard (wider and straighter) as well as the provision of a public through connection of Kenwood Drive and Klahowya Road. The latter would increase through traffic on neighboring roads, with the subsequent impact on the privacy and safety of residents. Potential road impact on the environment, aesthetics and privacy was one of the deciding factors in choosing a Strata model for the development (see below).
Access roads in the proposed bare-land strata subdivision will be privately owned and maintained and will be narrow and gravel surfaced, with a design speed of 30 km/hour. Kenwood Drive and Klahowya Road are not proposed to be joined, except by a gated service lane. This will increase privacy and security for owners and avoid impacting present residents on theses roads with through traffic.
To see a drawing ( same drawing as referenced in the "House Site" section, above) representing an overview of our exploration of potential house sites, access and servicing planning process, please follow this link which will open the drawing in a new window for easy reference.
If you don't want to use a new window, follow this link.
Suitable locations for wells were determined and wells drilled and tested, domestic water will be available to all residences from drilled wells each serving one to four lots. After changes to regulations individual wells were then drilled for each phase one lot. Wells were tested and a hydrogeological investigation was undertaken of their capacity and drawdown characteristics. All wells are minimum 1000 feet from any septic field, to Ministry of Environment standards (This contrasts to the normal Ministry of Health 100 foot separation requirement in normal rural subdivisions).
A secondary water system draws water for irrigation needs (of the individual lots and the common areas) and fire suppression from the constructed Meadow Valley lakes located in the north part of the site. This reduces impact on groundwater resources. Each house will be connected to a centrally located sewage treatment plant via the installed collector mains.
For the amenity and biodiversity value of open freshwater, and to provide irrigation water for lots owners (thus reducing groundwater impact) and to provide water for fire suppression, a system of five lakes and ponds is part of the Meadow Valley plan. This storage will enhance the water resources and biodiversity of the Meadow Valley, whilst at the same time the secondary water system has been designed to extend rather than degrade natural wetland areas. This water source and storage system together with a pumping station and piping to each lot have been constructed under an approved water license.
Water is at a premium on the Gulf Islands and open freshwater of any substantial area is very rare on the smaller Islands, the open water ecosystem provided by the lakes will greatly enhanced the biodiversity of the Valley.
It was decided to reduce impact and to increase flexibility in land use by using a high quality community sewage treatment system. Traditional sewage disposal by individual septic fields is problematic in many areas in the Gulf Islands. It is often high impact - impact from clearing for the fields and from groundwater pollution. Moreover, the location and feasibility of individual septic fields can severely restrict decisions on lot layout and land use.
The Meadow Valley Properties system was designed using a secondary treatment plant to produce high-quality effluent which will be disposed of via a common septic field. This system was designed under stringent Ministry of Environment guidelines. Selection of a suitable disposal field included detailed hydrogeological modelling to ensure that we would not be producing groundwater pollution or other contamination and that the system would have a long life. Normal rural subdivisions follow the less stringent Ministry of Health guidelines for private septic systems.
This system, the first of its kind to be used in a development on Thetis Island (but widely used in BC), is very simple and designed to be highly reliable and to keep maintenance costs low. The system has been designed for flow rates high enough to avoid any restriction on numbers of bedrooms in lot owner's houses and cabins.
Sewage disposal is often a problem for purchasers of unserviced lots on the Gulf Islands, and this system is also intended to remove this area of concern for purchasers. The field area itself is about half the size 20 individual fields would be, thus reducing the clearing impact of the development. The field area is within common property and will provide an attractive meadow as a common amenity.
Despite the natural beauty of the Gulf islands, most developments, for cost reasons, install above ground Hydro lines, making an ugly visual impact on many otherwise natural vistas, and mandating clearing and treecutting in the future for maintenance.
Underground lines are more expensive, but we will be using them in critical areas, for phase two and part of phase three, to reduce visual impact, improve reliability and to allow natural regrowth to go undisturbed. This will be a first on Thetis.
Capability for wildfire suppression is of importance on the dry Gulf Islands. Most normal rural residential developments are very vulnerable to wildfire, since few provisions have been made for control, suppression or access.
Access and provision of water are also important factors in reducing the risk of impact from house fires. Few rural developments provide standpipes for fire suppression water.
Meadow Valley's use of a Strata model and a landscape based planning process help to make planning for fire control and suppression easier. This planning includes proper access provisions, contingency plans for fire breaks and assembly areas and water provision. Our fire control and emergency provisions planning is more advanced than any current or past development on the Gulf Islands. This planning has been done in cooperation with the Thetis Island Volunteer Fire Department.
Meadow Valley is the first development on Thetis Island to have its own fire suppression water supply. This supply, based around the secondary water system, includes standpipes strategically located on the access roads and service lane and a 200 gallon per minute pump system (installed for phase one) with (for phase two) a 6000 gallon secondary storage system (other than the millions of gallons stored in the lakes) and 4 inch mainline piping. Access roads and driveways have also been planned to address fire suppression and emergency access concerns.
As information was gathered and collated, a land use plan based upon our objectives and themes and the resource information evolved. The evolving plan guided design and engineering, and those specific elements then fed back into revision and fine tuning of the plan.
This plan addresses our greenquest philosophy. It provides properties of distinction with significant infrastructure in a beautiful setting, we know that these properties will meet the priorities of those seeking a place on Thetis.
To see a drawing representing an overview of our land use plan, please follow this link which will open the drawing in a new window for easy reference.
If you don't want to use a new window, follow this link.
After considering the above factors, and based upon the land use plan, various lot layouts were drawn. Lot boundaries were defined in the field so that they would fit the land. In a conventional subdivision, the entire property would be utilized for residential lots and public roads with "a road down the middle and lots off either side". This approach, while cheaper and easier, certainly did not fit in with our objectives.
After consideration of options a Bare Land Strata plan approach was clearly the most sensible. The image, below, shows the final layout, with the common areas shaded for easy reference. Description of the plan continues below the image.
Plan image showing all lots.
Scroll down below the plan for more details.
For more detailed plans please see our "detail plans" page, or, for a larger scale plan plus all the planning history drawings, follow this link.
The strata model was best able to meet our objectives whilst still providing owners with their own private lots and addressing our themes. See our "strata" page for details.
In the proposed strata subdivision, lots are configured according to the landscape suitability. Wetlands, vegetation features, and the inlet shoreline are excluded from residential lots, and lot boundaries, therefore, conform more to natural features boundaries. Two groups of smaller lots are gathered in the north and south areas of the property, and larger lots and common property dominate the central portion. The 20-lot layout recognizes the need for diversity in terms of lot size, landscape types, and preference for views, sun, and privacy from neighbors.
Larger lots contiguous with extensive common property both encourage the retention of natural habitat in areas large enough to be useful, provides for wildlife corridors and retains the amenity of greenspace. Together, larger (over ten acres) lots and common property cover about 149 acres of the 206 acre site, or 72% of the area. There are three large lots, one of which is about 50 acres. Common property covers about 75 acres, or 36% of the total area.
To maintain privacy and residential standards, house sites will be specified for each lot after discussion with initial purchasers and some covenanted areas protect important natural areas or views/privacy strips. Building design guidelines for a few lots protect common or neighbor's views. Strata regulations are anticipated to define areas for resident's firewood harvesting.
To see a drawing representing an artists impression of what a birds eye view of the project will look like when finished, please follow this link which will open the drawing in a new window for easy reference.
If you don't want to use a new window, follow this link.
The extensive common property allows us to plan for and provide many facilities and amenities that we could never have considered in a fee simple model. It allows for integrated fire and emergency planning and for future maintenance of fire suppression provisions. It also allows for integrated planning of use of sensitive areas that would otherwise have been cut up into a number of separate lots.
Approximately 72 acres, or 35% of the property will be retained as common greenspace. These areas serve a number of functions, including:
Large lots in the centre of the property contribute significantly to the protection of natural areas in a similar way that the common areas do, and easements across some properties will permit lane and trail access and utilities to cross private land, for the benefit of all residents and the reduction of impact. See Land Use Plan drawing.
In order to ensure the continuing protection of the environmental values of particularly sensitive or valuable common property areas we utilized conservation covenants. Of the 72 Acres of common property about 22 Acres are or will be protected by conservation covenants. See our "Conservation Cov." page for details.
The common areas as proposed serve to enhance the use, enjoyment, and
preservation of the property for all 20 lot owners, and to demonstrate
responsible land stewardship.
Common facilities are outlined on the "Strata overview" page.
The development is expected to be completed within five years, in three phases.
Planning and land use regulation on Thetis Island is the responsibility of the Islands Trust, a body established by the provincial government to "preserve and protect" the unique environment of the Gulf Islands for their residents and for the people of B.C.. Building regulation (i.e. the application of the building code) and other municipal responsibilities fall to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
The O.C.P. is a document developed by the Islands Trust Local Trust Committee after input from the Island community stating general objectives and policies for land use in the community and which sets the principles upon which the Land Use Bylaw is built. "The plan offers the community's vision of the future and proposes a level of acceptable growth."
The Land Use Bylaw for Thetis Island (Islands Trust Land Use Bylaw No. 56, 1997) is a document developed and managed by the Local Trust Committee to implement, where possible, the principles and objectives of the O.C.P.. Among other things, it regulates the density of development, creates zones for different land use and specifies the type of uses permitted on land in a particular zone.
Meadow Valley Properties is in the R-2, rural residential zone. This
zone has an allowable density of one residence and one guest cabin per 10
acres. In a Strata development this density is averaged as outlined above.
The general uses permitted in R-2 are:
Follow the links on our "Links" page to a full copy of the bylaw and O.C.P., or contact the Islands Trust in Victoria.
Throughout the planning process we made every effort to fall in line with the community's desires as expressed in these Bylaws and the O.C.P.. Fortunately, the priorities of our plan are very much in line with the "preserve and protect" mandate of the Islands Trust. The Meadow Valley Properties plan is considered to be a model for appropriate development, consistent with the OCP and land Use Bylaw.
We maintained two way communication with the community during the planning process. Our plan has many advantages for the Island in comparison to a more traditional development, for example the reduction of road impact, the community park trail and the use of covenanted buffer strips. The fire provisions were also developed in consultation with the local Fire Department in such a way as to benefit the whole community.
As part of our plan a community trail park equivalent has been donated by us to the Thetis Island Residents and Ratepayers Association (TIRRA) for the use of community members, see our "community trail" page for details.
This link is to a page with some of these benefits outlined. The page contains a link back to this section.
For information on our property and to view our lots for sale please see our "Properties" page.
We will frequently update and enhance our website, so check back often. We are happy to respond promptly to any specific question, just e-mail us.
Please contact us for more information on our properties and on Thetis
Email us at email@example.com or call 250-246-4774
Meadow Valley Properties, quality planned real estate by Trax Developments Ltd., Box 9-6, Thetis Island, B.C., V0R 2Y0, Canada.
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