Significant changes have been made to plans for a multi-unit development at 464 Eaglecrest Drive in Gibsons, but despite lower height, lower density and a “less urban” aesthetic, neighbours who oppose the project are not appeased by the re-design.
On Dec. 15 the Gibsons Advisory Planning Commission (APC) and an audience of over 20 community members heard from Timothy Ankenman of Ankenman Marchand Architects about the proposal for a steep five-acre site stretching between Stewart Road in lower Gibsons and Eaglecrest Drive.
This was the third appearance before the APC for the Eagle View Heights project. Ankenman described the redesigned proposal as “a work in progress,” and said he was checking in with the APC prior to finalizing a new application.
The previous plan featured two clusters of housing at the top of the property and one near the bottom, separated by a large green space on the steepest portion of the slope. The new plan is for three housing clusters above and one below, arranged on footprints similar to surrounding single family homes. The number of units has decreased to 87 from over 100, meeting the requirements for low density residential zoning, so the project will not require an amendment to the Town’s Official Community Plan.
“The middle buildings…were much too large for the community to accept and that was really what was forcing the OCP amendment,” said Ankenman. The new design has a maximum three storey height from below or two stories from the uphill side, and a wide variety of finishing materials to give the units more individuality.
Ankenman said the target market for the project has not changed—people who want to downsize from single family homes without leaving the Coast. “We heard loud and clear, and still hear loud and clear, that people are looking for one level living.”
“We’ve gone to more of a West Coast modern style with very low sloped roofs and the bottom rows actually flat green roofs,” said Ankenman. However, he noted that the new configuration requires more infrastructure. “This project got a lot more expensive because each of these pods actually has an elevator.”
Automobile elevators are also included in the underground parking garage for the units accessed off Stewart Road —a feature that drew mixed response from APC committee members. While Michael Mills described the parking elevators as a creative solution to a difficult access challenge, Scott Davis did not like the “tunnel” effect.
“It’s a very urban solution, but we’re Gibsons,” said Davis. “We’re asking people who live here to walk through a tunnel every day and their guests to arrive into a tunnel…I just don’t feel the form and the character is a part of Gibsons. It’s so different.”
The committee passed a motion in support of the new design, saying it addressed concerns that were previously raised and better fits with design guidelines.
However, William Baker of the O’Shea Oceanmount Community Association, speaking to the committee during the public question period at the end of the meeting, stated that his group still do not support the revised plans.
“The first words [in the OCP] are ‘seaside character.’ We look at this design as not complying in any way, shape or form with that,” said Baker.