By Jean Sorensen

After more than a decade attempting to get to market, the 1,838-acre Foothills development at Lantzville, B.C. at the mid-point on Vancouver Island now has building lots ready to go.

“We hope to start next month (May),” says Ben Hurlbutt, director of sales and marketing for developer Storm Mountain Development Corporation, which is seeing Phase 1 consists of 71 building lots available for purchase. The whole development, a master plan community, will take almost a decade to build all the proposed 730 homes. One of the concessions to the District of Lantzville is that 900 acres of the development area be allocated to a park.

The development got off to a rocky start when the original developer, after investing $13 million into infrastructure, hit the construction doldrums of 2008. The project stalled and tumbled into bankruptcy and receivership.



Storm Mountain, which was formed in 2012 as a post-recession company wanting to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace, picked Foothills up as one of six planned communities in B.C. it was proposing. The Storm Mountain’s website says its partner is a “global private investment management firm”. Although the company is headquartered in Alberta, Storm Mountain’s CEO is Bowen Island, B.C. resident Allard Ockeloen.

Using a subsidiary known as Lone Tree Properties, Storm Mountain acquired the Foothills property in 2014.

Lantzville is a small community, located 16.6 km north of Island hub Nanaimo, known as the “Harbour City”, with a population of over 90,000. The Foothills development is within the southern border of Lantzville, or approximately a five minute drive from the downtown area. The Lantzville total land area of 6,886 acres has a current population of 3,800. Hurlbutt said that by the time the Foothills development is fully built out, it is expected to add more than 2,000 more residents to the area.

The proximity to the ocean plus the 900 acres designated as a permanent park adds to the appeal of the development. “I think with the park and the other recreational aspects of the area, you are getting a unique opportunity to buy into a development where you can build an amazing home,” Hurlbutt says, adding that the area will appeal to hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers. He compared it to Vancouverites enjoying Stanley Park. The elevated bluff on which the development is sited provides scenic ocean views for homeowners.

One of the problems faced by the previous developers was their difficulty in finding a water supply to service the development. When Storm Mountain took over it was able to find a well water supply that satisfied the District of Lantzville, which provided consent to build 103 homes. It kicked off the first phase of development, although Storm Mountain will have to find other water sources for further development. Hurlbutt said that under the agreement with the district, the new system will come under its jurisdiction.

The elevated bluff on which the development is sited provides scenic views for homeowners.
The elevated bluff on which the development is sited provides scenic views for homeowners.

Storm Mountain is capitalizing on the infrastructure already in place. The $13 million spent by the previous developer has left access roads into the site, where today lots are marked off for buyers. “There are rough roads,” says Hurlbutt of the gravel and logging roads traversing the development.

Once sales have concluded and the 10 per cent deposits from buyers have been obtained, the developer will continue with work such as supplying water, sewer and electrical services and paving the roadways. An estimated $25 million will be spent over the next year. When the infrastructure has been placed, new home construction in the first phase can begin. The lots range from .25 acres to one acre on average and most are priced in the $300,000 range in the first phase.

Hurlbutt said the 10 per cent deposit will be held in trust and should the developer not complete according to the terms of the contract, the funds will be returned.

There could be five or more phases as the build-out progresses. One of the phases is for a mixed use development that will include commercial outlets and also recreational facilities. He says the new development will create half a billion dollars through investment, construction and job creation.

Storm Mountain will work with real estate professionals and offer commissions. Buyers can register online but there is also a place for real estate salespeople to register with the buyers. Out-of-province salespeople can use Google Earth to show clients the development and area, he says.

He adds that although the project was in receivership by the previous developer, there are no lingering liens or other legal encumbrances attached to any of the properties or titles put forward for sale. He said the developer is meeting all the requirements set out by the district for development permits.

The documents setting out the development agreements and other information for Foothills can be viewed at the district’s website, www.lantzville.ca. Information on Foothills can be viewed at the development’s website at foothillslifestyle.com.