The City of Campbell River is looking for resident input about possible changes to downtown zoning, which could incentivize multi-use development and change where social services can be located.
The changes are being proposed in response to recommendations by the city’s Downtown Safety Selection Committee made in 2021, to encourage redevelopment downtown and address safety concerns, according to the city.
Currently, there are five zoning types in downtown Campbell River. But city staff are proposing combining four of those zones into a single zone, said Cleo Corbett, senior planner. Downtown’s foreshore would remain as a separate zone, given its specific conditions, she added.
The aim of this is to simplify and modernize downtown zoning while incentivizing and encouraging redevelopment in the city’s core. This zoning review will consider how to maintain ‘viewscapes’ and corridors, while also encouraging density, said Corbett.
“I think of it as if you’re looking downtown from the water, building a more urban skyline and more urban development downtown,” she said.
This change could help drive the downtown construction of multi-use buildings — structures featuring commercial businesses on the ground floor, with offices and residential units on higher floors, she said.
The city is also considering implementing ‘density bonusing,’ which allows developers to increase the density of proposed builds, if they agree to provide a certain number of affordable housing units.
Together, these changes could breathe more life into Campbell River’s downtown.
“What those things do is it creates a more vibrant downtown — with more people living downtown and working downtown, that supports business growth,” she said. “It also makes downtown safer, because there’s more people downtown at all times.”
Another proposal is directing drop-in social services (related to such things as food security, hygiene, and substance use) to the city’s ‘Ironwood area,’ located west of Dogwood Street, south of 16th Ave., and east of Nunns Creek.
“We want to balance the need to have important services accessible to those who need them, with the safety concerns we hear from business owners and residents,” said Peter Wipper, the city’s director of public safety, in a press release. “Right now there is a high concentration of social services downtown and that is having an impact on perceptions of safety.”
Under the proposal, existing services would be grandfathered into their current locations, regardless of any changes to the city’s bylaws. So this change would only affect new services or any services looking to relocate, said Corbett.
“We’re trying to find that middle-ground approach,” she said.
Looking to engage stakeholders and the public about the changes, the city has launched a survey and will be holding four virtual roundtable events Feb. 22 and 24. Those wishing to participate are being asked to email email@example.com.
The city hopes to hear from people with different opinions to help inform its direction, said Jason Locke, the city’s planning and sustainability manager.
“These roundtable events are really designed to bring people together, and provide the opportunity for dialog, to create a collective understanding of what the concerns are, what the issues are, and really try to bring the community together to try and find a collaborative approach,” said Locke.
“This decision will be based on feedback, the results of what we hear will be presented to council, and then, at the end of the day, council will make a decision based on all the factors — the technical aspect and what they’re hearing from the community as well.”