How can we build our homes and communities so that they co-exist harmoniously with Nature? What does it mean to create a sustainable house, a sustainable community, a sustainable city? For each additional day that we live, design and build unsustainably, we pull another fibre out of the fabric of Earth’s ecosystems.


In the period 1990 - 1994, plans were laid for a new town on the site of the old cement works at Bamberton, on the Saanich Inlet, 32km north-west of Victoria.

The plans were to build a town for 12,000 people over 20 years, as a model of new urban design and ecological sustainability, with a relatively self-contained local economy.

These plans generated considerable excitement, and an equal amount of opposition. In 1997, the project was cancelled due to a mixture of reasons.

One day, the full story of Bamberton may be told. In the meantime, there is no single, concise record of the huge amount of planning and community dialogue that took place.

I was intimately involved over these years, as one of the project's two environmental consultants (with Randy Hooper), and as co-founder of the Bamberton Business Network and the Bamberton Community Alliance. The initiator, developer and visionary behind the project was David Butterfield, President of South Island Development Corporation.

Today, in 1999, I receive frequent requests for information from people who want to know about Bamberton. For your benefit, I have dug into my personal files, and put the following papers on the Internet.

PLEASE BE AWARE, however, that I was only one player in a large team of people, and that these papers reflect a mix between my professional input and my personal input. They should not be read as a comprehensive record of the Bamberton project. I have also dug up some websites (see below) which you may find helpful.

Why did Bamberton fail? In any conflict, you will get different answers. My answer is that it failed for a number of reasons :

  • Opposition from many (but not all) local people living in the Mill Bay area. Some opposed it because they didn't want anyone else living up there. Some simply did not trust the developer, in spite of (or because of) the social and environmental goals.
  • An inability to put the plans into a regional context, through the lack of an existing regional planning process.
  • A lack of scientific clarity as to the impacts of the proposed tertiary treated sewage outfall on the Saanich Inlet.
  • Confused media coverage - the Times Colonist preferred to play on the "conflict" angle, rather than research the facts.
  • A failure of courage by the NDP provincial government, who chose to order more studies when they could have said "Go ahead".
  • If we had started with a project just 1/4 the size and shown that our ideas could work on a small scale, there would probably be people living in Bamberton today.
  • Concern by the investors that the project might never get approved, even after the Environmental Impact Assessment. In the end, it was the investors who chose to cancel it.

I hope you find these notes useful.

Guy Dauncey, December 1999.

Eco-Community Design - the Canadian town of Bamberton Puts all the Pieces Together, by Guy Dauncey

Papers about Bamberton, from Guy Dauncey's files :

1. The Bamberton Code

2. Project Highlights

3. Bamberton's Infrastructure

4. Ecological Protection

5. Site Planning

6. Neighbourhood Planning

7. Building a Living Community

8. The Bamberton Economy

9. The Bamberton Business Code

10. Affordable Housing

11. Environmental Building Materials

12. Energy Policy

13. Transportation Plan

14. Healthy Building

15. Internal Transit

16. Sustainable Resource Management

17. Legal Mechanisms