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More Bear Mountain storeys on horizon for island development

Vertical ambitions Vancouver architect Arno Matis has ambitious plans for the Bear Mountain development near Victoria. John Hardy Group Inc.
An artist’s rendition of Vancouver architect Arno Matis’ Vertical Micro-Climate Resort (VMR) concave towers plan for Vancouver Island’s Bear Mountain development | Submitted

Vertical ambitions

Vancouver architect Arno Matis has ambitious plans for the Bear Mountain development near Victoria.

John Hardy Group Inc., an Atlanta, Georgia, development firm with a focus on the hospitality sector, will fly Matis and four other candidates to New York this fall to present at its Radical Innovation Award competition. Matis has proposed a series of concave towers for the high point at Bear Mountain that could offer 450,000 square feet in what he bills as a “vertical micro-climate resort (VMR) concept.”

“Architecture is inspired by the striking West Coast setting; dramatic cantilever decks that stagger and terrace like evergreen tree branches atop a rippled pond,” the project description says.

The towers use “reflective guardrail systems to redirect additional light down and naturally brighten resort grounds.”

Ecoasis Developments LLP recently engaged Jones Lang LaSalle to review options for Bear Mountain, which it acquired in 2013. However, work continues on the site on Players Drive for which Matis drafted the original plans in 2008.

“As part of our master planning, Ecoasis approached Arno last year to redesign the project at a lower density and incorporating sustainable attributes that would coexist with the Ecoasis 2020 environmental plan that is under development,” said Shannon Drew, vice-president, corporate affairs and community initiatives, for Ecoasis. “Scheduling to advance such a project has yet to be defined and would most certainly be driven by demand.”

Devil in the details

LionRock Developments Corp., a venture of Delta developer – and pastor – Alan Braun and business partner Mark Foster, saw a niche to create new, church-anchored residential projects. Perhaps the most ambitious of the ventures was The River, a project slated for a site on Scott Road in Surrey now being developed as the North Surrey Sport Complex & Ice. Smaller projects, including Shiloh Place, a residential project on the site of the former Hillcrest Baptist Church in Kamloops, and the redevelopment of Royal Heights Baptist Church in North Delta, home to the congregation Braun pastors, haven’t proceeded.

Moreover, Braun and his son Jerry Braun, directors of Braun Developments (B.C.) Ltd., are the subjects (along with associate Steven Maxwell) of a June 27 BC Securities Commission (BCSC) fraud hearing. BCSC documents allege that the Brauns and Maxwell received $450,000 from two investors who believed the funds would be invested in Edmonton real estate and yield a 50% return within 60 days.

They instead “spent the investors’ funds on other things, including a personal mortgage and credit card payments, and cash withdrawals.”

Alan Braun did not respond to a request for comment on the turn of events. Royal Heights is affiliated with the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC), of which Braun is a former president; CNBC staff didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Royal Heights’ summer preaching schedule includes the sermon “Life After a Financial Collapse” on July 23.

Data shortfall

A year since the province responded to public concern and began tracking B.C. real estate purchases by foreign nationals, there are still just nine months of data available. There’s been no release of information since March, when the province published data for February 2017.

The record went dark for the duration of the election campaign and remained dark at press time despite ongoing concern over housing affordability in Metro Vancouver and beyond.

Ottawa, which pledged $500,000 to Statistics Canada to compile data on foreign purchases, also has yet to deliver. While the first numbers will be available from Vancouver and Toronto by the end of this year (assuming the data is available), Statistics Canada doesn’t expect data for all municipalities to be ready until December 2022. •

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