Liquor store proposed for Campbell River apartment building

What is being proposed for the ground floor that has some neighbours raising their eyebrows

A property owner wants to build a residential complex like no other in the city.

While there’s nothing unusual about building a new apartment building, it’s what is being proposed for the ground floor that has some neighbours raising their eyebrows.

Derik Pallan, owner of a vacant lot at 1054 South Island Highway, has plans to build a five-storey, eight unit apartment building with a 278 metre squared liquor store below.

Chris Osborne, the city’s planner, said city staff support the project for a number of reasons.

“The development concept is for a mixed use building accommodating a liquor store at the ground floor level with apartments above,” Osborne said in a report to council. “The site, accessed directly from Island Highway, is adjacent to the Big Rock Motel and close to the Husky gas station and boat launch. The number of vehicle trips projected to be generated by the proposed use would not have any significant impact above the existing baseline of traffic volume along Island Highway.”

The project also supports the city’s goals in the Sustainable Official Community Plan.

“With specific relevance to the proposal for a liquor store at ground level with residential apartments above, the OCP (Official Community Plan) supports residential densification and also seeks to provide for new commercial developments; particularly those designed to serve residents and tourists. Mixed use developments are also supported.”

But Norma and Mary Lewis, Nanaimo residents who own property at 1109 and 1131 South Island Highway in Campbell River, said in a letter to city council that the majority of attendees at a public meeting held by the builder are opposed to a liquor store at the proposed location.

“Introducing a liquor store at this location would significantly increase traffic issues on an already challenged portion of Highway 19A,” wrote John Lewis, on behalf of Norma and Mary Lewis. “Rich Stephens (agent for Pallan) described the development, if approved, may require an additional south bound pull-out lane to address traffic concerns. We understand there are plans to modernize and expand utilization of the adjacent city-owned boat launching facility. It is reasonable to assume that this would further contribute to traffic congestion and associated issues, including beach parties with handy access to a liquor store.”

The Lewises also questioned whether Campbell River needs or wants a liquor store at that location when there are others nearby.

“A government liquor store in Willow Point is only 1.9 kilometres away, a neighbourhood pub (Freddie’s Pub at the Best Western) is only 1.3 kilometres away and the Willows Neighbourhood Pub is 1.7 kilometres away,” John Lewis wrote. “At the end of the day, does this proposal really represent the best interests for future development of Campbell River’s wonderful waterfront? We think not.”

The proposal will go to a public hearing, likely on April 23, for council to hear submissions in favour or opposed to the project.