Developer says Wren project won’t be approved by DFO

Project estimated to provide 1,000 jobs and $2.5 million in property taxes

The developer behind a proposed $80-million commercial and residential development at Wren Street and Lougheed Highway says Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) won’t grant environmental approval for the project.

Karel Carhoun, whose company, Carhoun and Sons Ent. Ltd., has been seeking approval for the Wren Creek site since September 2009, said a DFO official told him his project will be rejected and he doesn’t understand why.

The issue is whether the project is “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” the reason Environment Canada recommended DFO reject the proposal in October.

At that time, the stumbling block was the uncertainty over the endangered Oregon forestsnail. But further provincial research has shown there are more snails in Canada than previously believed.

Carhoun said DFO assured him he would have a final decision on Dec. 9, 2011 but that didn’t happen. Two weeks later, he says he received a letter from Environment Canada that claimed the floodplain portion of his property is wetland.

There are now three areas on the property Environment Canada claims are wetlands, two located at the base of two ravines that would be filled in for the development and the third adjacent to the Silverdale Creek Wetlands.

But Carhoun says he has already addressed these areas in the mitigation and compensation plan that DFO agreed to last July.

For the two ravines that will be filled in, Carhoun is buying the nearby Sun Valley Trout Park, and would merge existing trout ponds with the Silverdale Creek to provide an ecological preserve for both fish and other species at risk.

For the stormwater detention pond at the west end, Carhoun’s environmental engineers have written that these artificial wetlands could be engineered to improve fish habitat over existing conditions.

When The Record contacted DFO, a government spokesperson said the environmental assessment process for the Wren Creek project is ongoing.

“At this time, no decision has been made,” said Carrie Mishima. “It would be inappropriate for DFO to comment on the outcomes of the assessment until the assessment process has been completed and the project proponent has been notified.”

The Carhoun project could generate as many as 1,000 jobs and provide $2.5 million in additional property taxes to the district based on estimates made by Mission’s economic development officer, Stacey Crawford.