Representatives of Calvary Baptist Church appeared before the Town of Gibsons Committee of the Whole on Feb. 7 with a preliminary proposal to build 60 to 100 units of affordable housing for seniors on a Venture Way property that adjoins the church’s Park Road location.
“We were approached by a member of our congregation and other people in the community about doing some 55-plus housing,” said Brian Wiebe of the Calvary Baptist Church. The church’s existing property is not big enough to add a large housing project, so the church went through a site selection process, and settled on the neighbouring Venture Way lot.
The proposed location is convenient to transportation and amenities, but the property would have to be rezoned from industrial and commercial zoning to residential.
“We’ve kind of reached the stage at this point where we need some direction as to the possibility of having that rezoned,” said Wiebe.
A report from Director of Planning Andre Boel recommended against the rezoning. Boel noted that while the Town welcomes affordable housing, it is also a priority of the Official Community Plan to preserve land for commercial and industrial use to support economic development.
The Venture Way property under discussion is currently owned by Ian Harding, who has been working with the church. The property is cut into two sections by Venture Way. The north section is bounded on the west by an industrial property (currently occupied by Gibsons Recycling Depot) and to the east by the Baptist church and a condominium development.
According to Harding, he has only been approached with one serious proposal to develop his property in the last 15 years, and it fell through. Harding favours subdividing the property into two sections and retaining the south portion (south of Venture Way, behind the present A&W) for commercial use.
After discussion, Council moved a compromise option. They asked Calvary Church to explore a site plan that retains a business frontage on Venture Way, and uses only the northern portion of the lot for housing.
“There is a door open here,” said Mayor Rowe. “Whether or not it’s one that makes any sense to your project, your organization will have to decide.”