At its March 22 meeting, the District of Sechelt’s Planning and Development got a first look at a development proposed for three vacant lots on Cowrie Street at the corner of Trail Avenue. The development, proposed by Prime Signal Ltd., would be a four-storey building with one level of underground parking, commercial space on the ground floor and 22 residential strata units on three floors above.
As currently proposed, the building would be constructed to a Built Green Gold standard, and all of the housing units would be accessible or adaptable. The site plan also allows for widening the alley behind the building to give ample room for fire trucks coming and going from the adjacent fire station.
The report from Interim Community Planner Aaron Thompson noted: “This proposal is located at an important corner in the downtown and the redevelopment of these lots will help shape what is possible in the downtown as well as the community’s vision for the downtown.”
The report included letters of support from the Sechelt & District Chamber of Commerce and the Sechelt Downtown Business Association. “Having residential, and the mix of retail/office will be a healthy addition to downtown,” wrote SDBA President Katharine Trueman.
Under the Official Community Plan, two of the proposed 22 units would be affordable housing, but Councillor Darnelda Siegers questioned the practicality of providing affordable units in a new strata development.
“My concern is, when we had the Watermark come forward we had an affordable unit in each one of the towers. Because of strata fees it really became difficult to actually find somebody that could afford to live there,” said Siegers. “I just want to make sure that we don’t fall into the same situation here.”
Siegers suggested that a cash contribution to affordable housing might be a more practical solution.
Thompson explained that under the current affordable housing policy, last updated in 2012, the District of Sechelt could chose to accept cash or land contributions in lieu of affordable housing units.
The Planning committee did not express any significant concerns with the new proposal and gave staff the go-ahead to proceed with drafting a bylaw.