Campbell River city council has sent a local developer back to the drawing board after receiving significant neighbourhood pushback against a proposed apartment complex on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Highway 19A.
WestUrban Developments had proposed a 60-unit apartment complex on the lot, which is currently zoned for one single-family residence. The lot is also situated in an area where the blanket zoning bylaw contains a condition that restricts maximum building height to eight metres above the height of the finished grade of the highway, and the proposed structure was to be 15 metres in height – assumed to be measured from the Original Average Grade, which is already well above the surface of the road.
The company would have needed both an Official Community Plan (OCP) Amendment and a Zoning Amendment to move forward with its plan.
Once the required signage was placed on the lot announcing the proposed amendments back in September however, residents in the surrounding neighbourhoods mounted a campaign against the plan. By the time the proposal was put before city council on Dec. 14, there were 154 pages of public correspondence attached to the report, including approximately 100 letters received in opposition.
The staff report before city council was recommending both the OCP Amendment and Zoning Amendment be denied.
Cameron Salisbury with WestUrban Developments was given five minutes to address council before the matter was considered. He outlined the potential benefits of the project and highlighted how the city is clamouring for more housing units.
“Developing a modest rental building in this location would diversify the existing rental tenure in the area,” Salisbury says. “The importance of purpose-built rental housing is identified in various policies in the Sustainable Official Community Plan, and was most recently reinforced through the city’s Housing Needs Assessment.”
But the public outcry was simply too loud for council to ignore.
“I think we have heard loud and clear from the neighbourhood,” Mayor Andy Adams said, but suggested that instead of outright denying the application, council instead “defer” the decision, allowing WestUrban to return with a new proposal that “takes to heart the comments from the community,” without having to start the process all over again from scratch, “due to the undue length of time it’s taken to get to this point.” The application was received by City Hall on July 9.
The rest of council agreed.
“We heard loud and clear from the public that they had issues around character, issues around height, issues around potential increased density and traffic issues,” said Coun. Colleen Evans, but added she also wanted to give the developer an opportunity to revise the application to reflect those concerns rather than have to start from scratch.
“This is not a situation where it’s a slight adjustment to the OCP,” said Coun. Claire Moglove. “This is turning the OCP upside-down. This is not the location for a four-storey apartment building. It just isn’t. While I appreciate that housing is in somewhat short supply in the community, that doesn’t mean that any development gets a green light.
“The people who live in that area have spoken very, very, very clearly that this particular proposal was significantly too dense,” Moglove continued. “But I look forward to seeing what the new proposal ends up being for that property.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield questioned the idea of deferring the application, as it wouldn’t send the message that an apartment complex for that property is completely off the table. But Mayor Adams said he’s confident that the developer has heard the message being delivered.
“The community has spoken loudly, and council wishes to see an application that is reflective of the community and neighbourhood’s immediate needs,” Mayor Adams says. “I think this provides the developer an opportunity to come back an option that does fit within what the neighbourhood, the community and the OCP state, without having to go all the way back and start the application over again.”
The motion to defer the proposal was passed with a vote of 5-1, with only Coun. Charlie Cornfield voting in opposition, as he wanted to see the proposal denied outright.