New development would require motel parking

A Campbell River developer is building an apartment complex and liquor store on a challenging lot

A developer wants to move forward with plans to build an apartment building with a liquor store on the ground floor along the South Island Highway.

Derik Pallan, the owner of 1054 S. Island Hwy. where he is proposing to develop the facility, was granted re-zoning by council in May, but needs approval for a major development permit in order to proceed with the building.

The proposed five-storey apartment would have a unique design and layout because of the challenging character of the lot.

City planner Chris Osborne said a large part of the relatively deep lot cannot be developed because of the steep slope at the back of the property. To avoid the slope, the developer is focusing on the flat, eastern part of the property.

In order to accommodate parking, Pallan needs to use a portion of the next door Big Rock Motel site which is also owned by Pallan.

“Normally developments of this nature with a storefront at ground level would be expected to be located towards the front of the lot to address the highway, with parking hidden behind,” Osborne said in a report to council. “However, due both to the narrow width and geotechnical constraints of the lot, it is preferable to use the building itself as a retaining structure at the toe of the slope, rather than locate a parking area here.

“The remainder of the site leaves insufficient space for the required parking for 20 apartments,” Osborne continued. “However, the applicant has proposed locating the parking at the adjacent Big Rock Motel site. The proposal to locate additional parking within the frontage relies upon suitable landscape screening to soften the visual impact.”

The entrance to the liquor store would face Highway 19 and parking for the store would be at the front of the property. Access to the residential units would be via the side and back of the building.

The small size of the lot had some councillors and nearby neighbours questioning the development during the re-zoning phase, which included a public hearing.

Cou. Ron Kerr was one of those who had concerns about the size of the property.

“I think the site has got severe limitations,” Kerr said at a council meeting in May. “I think it’s too small a property for the intended use. I’m usually pro-development but I just can’t see this succeeding.”

Resident John Lewis wrote that “the proposal as outlined fits a building too large to provide on-property parking, requiring an agreement with the Big Rock Motel to provide parking for the apartments above the liquor store.”

Grant Currie, who lives across the street from the property, said Campbell River doesn’t need another liquor store.

“The concept does nothing to enhance the development, services or appeal to the gateway to Campbell River,” Currie said. “There are certainly more than enough liquor stores in the vicinity of my neighbourhood. I can drive for approximately 90 seconds and be at four different liquor stores. As three of these liquor outlets are on the Island Highway the addition of another liquor store only adds competition to an already saturated market.”

Currie was also concerned about increased traffic in an already busy area.

Osborne in his report to council addressed the issue of traffic.

“With no new access to Island Highway proposed (the complex would use the Big Rock Motel entrance), the development would not have significant implications for traffic in this location,” Osborne said. “Additional traffic to and from the site would remain small when compared to high background levels of traffic along this busy stretch of highway.”

City staff were recommending before Tuesday’s council meeting, which took place after the Mirror went to press, that council approve the development despite its shortcomings.

“The proposed development concept represents an intensive use of a constrained site, and requires locating parking at an adjacent lot, which must be secured by legal covenant (to ensure the space is left open for parking),” Osborne said. “However, the design concept is sound, integrated with good quality architecture and landscaping, and consistent with OCP (Official Community Plan) aims for increased residential density and commercial provision within the waterfront designation. Staff supports this application.”