UPDATE April 4th 2014 - details of my visit to the site and I am impressed with what they are doing.
The Elkington Forest project is off of the Malahat and looks like an attempt to sell a new greenfield suburban development as a something new and different. I am not at all convinced that their idea is good one and it certainly is not a sustainable one.
In February they will be offering tours of the site and I may go there this weekend for a tour.
The project is on a 1000 acre property with most of it being left in some form of wilderness, though they speak of agroforesty being done on site. What is meant by agroforestry on this site I have no idea. With an mean annual increase of 3 cubic metres of timber per hectare, the property has a theoretical annual allowable cut of around 1000 cubic metres, though the plans are from a harvest of around 140 to 150 cubic metres of wood a year, about four logging truck loads. As far as I can tell from everything I can see, the property is second or third growth timber, on the site they say most of the land was logged in 1928.
The project calls for only 77 houses, all located on the southeast corner of the property, interestingly they have chosen to put the houses on the part of the property they harvested. This is not a lot of houses for a development and will mean there will never be many people in the area. I have doubts that the project will house more than 150 to 200 people. It is clearly a community aimed at people between 45 and 65 with their kids out of the house, an early retirement community in some ways.
A typical lot on the site is large. very large, about 1/3 of an acre of which about 7000 to 8000 square feet is available to be built on and developed, the rest is in a protective conventions. This means the buildable area is larger than a typical lot in the City of Victoria.
A sustainable community would have a mix of people from different socio-economic classes, the prices of the houses in this development do not allow for anyone to come at the entry level. The bottom end of the market is $475,000 for a 1150 square foot house - in Kettle Creek Station you can get into a similar house for $85,000 less. The top end of the market is $700,000 with a house of 2500 square feet.
The project lies about 13 kilometres from the nearest shopping, which is the big box stores in Langford. Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake are about 20 kilometres away. It is a long drive to buy a litre of milk and some bread. It is an even longer drive to get to work. The people living in this community will own an average of one car per adult over the age of 16 in the household. You will have to have a car to be able to live in this community.
In looking around the area, this project is the furthest intrusion into the forests of any development in the Malahat area. The south Shawnigan Lake area is extending southwards, but it has not gone this far.
All that said, the developers have done a good job of selling this project as a sustainable and livable community, even though it is neither of those.