A new hotel development pitched by a company poised to purchase the Sechelt Golf & Country Club (SG&CC) was given first reading and referred to a public hearing Wednesday night.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the move at their March 5 council meeting.
The proposed four storey, 150-room hotel is planned for a one-hectare portion of the golf course positioned between the restaurant and the driving range.
It would be built in three phases and consist of three buildings situated in a horseshoe shape. One of the buildings would house a spa, games area and meeting room and individual units would range in size from 450 sq. feet to 1,000 sq. feet.
The hotel proposes both underground and surface parking for guests.
The developer, referred to as Mr. Wang in District documents, is with the numbered company 0993104BC Ltd, according to director of development services Ray Parfitt.
Wang has been in negotiations to purchase the golf course with the major shareholders of SG&CC for some time. Formerly Brian Hall was that major shareholder; however, he passed away on Dec. 2, 2013.
When Coast Reporter contacted his widow, Pat Hall, this week she would offer no comment on the sale.
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson said the District isn't involved in the negotiations, but noted they have allowed the leases to be transferred.
"I can tell you that the District has approved the assignment of the leases that we have with Sechelt Golf & Country Club Ltd. We have approved the assignment of those leases from SG&C Ltd. to a new company, which is controlled by a major shareholder," Henderson said.
The hotel proposal first came to council at their Feb. 26 committee of the whole meeting where staff presented five different options to connect main roadways to the development for ease of access in the future.
The report talked about the developer paying for one of those options (ranging in price from $242,000 to $1.28 million) as a community benefit in exchange for allowing the hotel to be built.
Councillors were split on the idea, with Coun. Chris Moore wondering if they were asking for too much from the developer.
"We all want to see this opened up. We know that the long-term plan is to see higher facility use of the golf course, Kinnikinnick Park and the playgrounds, right? But to put it on the back of one development to me sounds onerous, and I want to look at this very carefully," Moore said.
He noted that although the developer would benefit by being able to build, "we as the District of Sechelt directly benefit also and that's the point I'm trying to make. With DCCs [development cost charges] and the tax bases, we are not hitting the jackpot, but this is a pretty good deal."
Others saw the need for the developer to offer some community contribution, but they were unsure which roadway option was best.
When Parfitt asked for direction so staff could "get an idea where council is heading before we sit down with the proponent," Henderson replied: "I'm going to turn that around. I'd very much like to hear what the proponent, what they feel before you ask us."
Unsure what to do, but not wanting to hold up the process Coun. Tom Lamb suggested first reading.
"We need first reading so that we can get the proponents and the District together so that we can move forward, and then hopefully we can come to an agreement on what direction to move in is the best for both of us," he said.
When the question was called at the committee meeting, all were in favour of first reading and referral to a public hearing. The motion was then officially endorsed by council at their regular council meeting on March 5.
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