A renovation of the iconic Halfmoon Bay General Store site was the subject of a public drop-in session Jan. 23. The two-hour event was hosted by the property owners in the site’s cafe. Project architect Heather Johnston, of West Vancouver-based Place Architect was on hand for these discussions. She estimated that close to 50 members of the public attended.
The renovation would create space for a general store, cafe, two apartment units, and a community meeting space at the site. Expansion of outdoor public spaces, including more public washrooms and improved beach access are included in the proposed design. The property owners are looking to improve the way the site functions and serves the community. A key consideration for the design will be maintaining the location’s historic character.
One public attendee noted that the cafe was “bursting at the seams” during portions of the evening. Public comments that came forward at the meeting included concerns about impacts on the neighbourhood that upgrades at the site will bring. Many of these were related to increased traffic, noise, and sewage disposal. Discussions on the potential for a pub on the site resulted in strong negative reactions from some. A pub is not included in the current design concept. The owners have not applied for any changes to the facilities existing liquor off-sales licence.
Some attendees expressed surprise that there had been no previous public notification about the proposal from the SCRD. Johnston explained that a project development permit was issued Nov. 19, 2019. Applying for that permit was a technical review process that did not involve the public, as no variances were requested for the project.
While the discussion was lively at times, the project proponents were pleased with how the event unfolded. “The overwhelming majority of what I heard was positive.” said Johnston. “We will take all the feedback we received into consideration and do our best to address the community’s concerns. Many excellent points were made and great ideas shared with us, which we will explore as we develop the building permit documents,” said Johnston.
Applying to the SCRD for a building permit will be the next step in the project development process. A development permit sign will be posted at the site after a building permit is issued.
The property owners are welcoming additional public input as they work through this process. A post on the store’s Facebook page from Jan. 24 invites those that could not be there to drop by the store on weekdays between 9am and 2pm to speak about the project.