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Sechelt debates height and density of projects

Sechelt debates height and density of projects

A busy District of Sechelt planning committee meeting on March 28 dealt with four applications for developments in Sechelt neighbourhoods, the most controversial of which was a six-storey apartment building proposed for the corner of Wharf Avenue and East Porpoise Bay Road. The “Wade Grout McTavish” development would include underground parking, ground floor commercial space and 47 apartments.

While councillors agreed with planning staff that the downtown site is suitable for high density, they balked at the height, which is three storeys higher than surrounding buildings. The proposal involves combining two lots and rezoning to allow for the mixed commercial/residential use and higher density.

Councillor Mike Shanks described the building height as “imposing,” stating: “Yes, the OCP [official community plan] does allow for six-storey redevelopment in our community. However the guiding document is the Vision document which doesn’t indicate that at all. It indicates up to four storeys.”

Councillor Darnelda Siegers said she didn’t have an issue with the height, but would like more setbacks. “I would like to see more on the terracing back, particularly from Wharf.”

And Councillor Alice Lutes agreed that having the floors stepped back would reduce the “big box” effect, noting that she thought the density was appropriate for a walkable neighbourhood.

After discussion, councillors voted to recommend first reading of the proposed bylaw amendment to council, despite the fact that the Advisory Planning Commission rejected the proposal at its Feb. 15 meeting, citing concerns about height and setbacks.

Voting in favour of the recommendation, Councillor Mike Shanks stated: “I’m only wanting to move this quickly to public hearing so that’s why I’m supporting these things and then I’ll hear what the public has to say.”

Committee chair, Councillor Noel Muller, was the only one to vote against first reading, stating that he was concerned about the height of the project and wanted to see more view analysis.

Other applications on the March 28 agenda included the Resland subdivision, with a request to allow variances for two steep lots on a 31-lot site at McCourt Road and Highway 101, and Murmac Construction Ltd. with a 21-lot development on Shoal Bay Road in West Porpoise Bay.

Council also gave the nod to a development permit and development variance application from Van Ke Developments Inc. for a 66-lot subdivision in Selma Park between Havies Road and Nestman Road.

A report from the Planning department showed that Sechelt still has approximately 50 rezoning, subdivision and other development applications in their queue, a number of which are waiting for developers to fulfill conditions of approval. These include the Spani proposal for 217 units of seniors independent and supportive housing, which passed second and third readings last fall.

The Silverstone Care Centre application for a long-term care facility is still considered active because Trellis has not withdrawn it, even though they are now looking at a site in the Sechelt Indian Government District. However, another application was recently closed due to inactivity—a 2013 proposal for a 150-unit resort hotel at the Blue Ocean Golf Club. If the golf club wishes to move forward they will have to re-apply.

Donna McMahon

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