Shawni­gan Lake project to ‘keep the in­tegrity of the land’

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - SUZANNE MOR­PHET DOUG MAKAROFF

When Doug Makaroff shows peo­ple pic­tures of an area around Shawni­gan Lake on Van­cou­ver Is­land, he says they’re shocked.

“I do this over­lay and it’s on a 20-foot screen and peo­ple can­not be­lieve the amount of tim­ber that’s been taken out of the south Shawni­gan wa­ter­shed,” says the Vic­to­ria de­vel­oper.

“What they see is the south end of Shawni­gan Lake turned into chocolate milk af­ter ev­ery ma­jor rain event,” he says, re­fer­ring to the run-off and ero­sion that comes with clear-cut­ting.

Makaroff is still a de­vel­oper, but in­stead of try­ing to find pieces of land to do a real es­tate deal on, he’s looking for land that’s threat­ened by clear-cut­ting and sub­ur­ban sprawl, so he can save it.

He’s found just such a prop­erty ad­ja­cent to the area at Shawni­gan Lake that’s been scraped raw.

Elk­ing­ton For­est is about 400 hectares, al­most the size of Stan­ley Park in Van­cou­ver.

It was pur­chased by the Elk­ing­ton fam­ily of Oak Bay in 1945 and used for a sum­mer re­treat. Their cot­tage on a lake in the mid­dle of the prop­erty is the only “de­vel­op­ment” in a sea of green.

In a per­fect world, Elk­ing­ton For­est would be added to neigh­bour­ing Sooke Hills wilder­ness park, but that wouldn’t com­pen­sate the Elk­ing­tons for the $5 mil­lion to $6 mil­lion worth of tim­ber on the land.

In­stead, Makaroff has bor­rowed an idea from a group of peo­ple on Cortes Is­land, who banded to­gether a few years ago to save 60 hectares there from be­ing clearcut.

Makaroff calls it the 85/15 model, where 85 per cent of the prop­erty is placed un­der pro­tec­tive covenants that will al­low log­ging, but only at a sus­tain­able pace. The wood that’s har­vested will be pro­cessed at a mill on site and turned into value-added prod­ucts such as high-end doors and win­dows.

The re­main­ing 15 per cent of the prop­erty will be de­vel­oped for hous­ing, farm and for­est busi­nesses and tourism.

Makaroff says it’s the only model he knows of where real es­tate serves the pur­pose of con­ser­va­tion, not vice versa.

“We want to cre­ate this as a model of sus­tain­abil­ity ... where the houses will be LEED (Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign) stan­dard, the tim­ber will be FSC (For­est Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil cer­ti­fied), we want peo­ple to come in and re­ally be­come part of the pi­o­neers that help es­tab­lish the cul­ture of sus­tain­abil­ity.”

Gord Macdon­ald, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Macdon­ald and Lawrence Tim­ber Fram­ing in Cob­ble Hill, likes the pro­posal so much he plans to move his busi­ness to Elk­ing­ton For­est and says some of his em­ploy­ees would like to live there. “It’s a real no-brainer,” he says. “This is the sort of de­vel­op­ment that we should be do­ing around here. It keeps the in­tegrity of the land, it keeps the place beau­ti­ful and still pro­vides a way to de­velop sen­si­bly in the Cowichan Val­ley, so as a res­i­dent of the Cowichan Val­ley, I love it.”

Macdon­ald’s com­pany has been work­ing with the ar­chi­tect on five model home de­signs for Elk­ing­ton For­est.

He’s im­pressed with the vi­sion that Makaroff has come up with, where the 77 homes will be grouped in three clus­ters, like Euro­pean-style ham­lets.

“There’s gar­den space and com­mu­nal space and green space for kids to play, etc. and all of the gar­dens open onto the for­est and trails,” he says.

The homes, them­selves, will be built as much as pos­si­ble with wood from the prop­erty.

They’ll also have a light en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print. Makaroff notes that none of the houses — even the top-dol­lar, custom built ones with a view — will be big­ger than 4,000 square feet, in­clud­ing the base­ment.

“They are not mon­ster homes,” he says, adding that the first five model homes will be up to 2,900 square feet.

“We’re re­ally en­cour­ag­ing a ver­ti­cal­ity in the ar­chi­tec­ture and an Arts and Crafts style — very sim­ple form and shape with lots of popouts, gables, bay win­dows, those kinds of things.”

Each of the post and beam model homes will fea­ture a great room with ex­posed tim­ber frame, and knee brace and arch brace crafts­man­ship.

They’ll be priced at about $153 per square foot.

Makaroff wants peo­ple who buy into the project to be able to live and work at Elk­ing­ton For­est, hence all of the own­ers can have a home of­fice, a rental suite, or they can op­er­ate a bed and break­fast.

“What we re­ally don’t want is for this to be­come a com­muter sub­urb for Vic­to­ria, even though it’s only 17 min­utes from Vet­eran’s Memo­rial Park­way and the hubs of Lang­ford and Col­wood,” says Makharoff.

There will also be about a dozen or­ganic hobby farms of 1.2 to 1.6 hectares each.

To pull off his vi­sion for a sus­tain­able com­mu­nity, Makaroff had to ap­ply to the Cowichan Val­ley Re­gional District for the land to be re­zoned to some­thing called Com­mu­nity Land Stew­ard­ship, which al­lows for live/work ar­range­ments.

The elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the CVRD board for Shawni­gan Lake, Ken Cossey, says Elk­ing­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.