At its Jan. 17 meeting, Town of Gibsons committee of the whole recommended council approve notifying neighbours of consideration of development variance permits for 835 Gibsons Way (the Sunnycrest Motel site). The variances request 8.5 extra metres in height to have a 20.5-metre building, as well as a parking reduction to 68 from 136. The 81-unit building is to include 28 affordable units through CMHC funding (13 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom and one three-bedroom units), 6,000 square feet of commercial space and an 850-square foot daycare (for about 32 children). A second option was presented to committee – a smaller building of 77 units and a different exterior design – but the elected officials opted for the 81-unit design.
Staff recommended that a parking variance be conditional on: “the provision of two car share parking spaces and vehicles,” “the provision of car share credits/memberships for units without dedicated parking spaces,” “the provision of a bicycle repair station,” and “the provision of e-bike charging infrastructure in the bicycle storage area.”
The staff report noted that this property is opposite the Irwin Motel, which is also requesting a significant height variance.
Committee discussion came down to a need for a Town zoning classification for buildings above four storeys (or rather, a zone for high rises). While there was general agreement about the need for a new zone, Coun. Annemarie De Andrade was the sole councillor who voted in opposition of proceeding to notifying neighbours of the proposal. “The problem is, if we allow the variance, which isn’t really a variance, we are not giving any benefit to the community because we are not discussing the needs that high rise buildings [have].”
Mayor Silas White mentioned that because a high-rise zone doesn’t exist, developers are left to apply for a variance, which this applicant has done.
Coun. David Croal said that the developer was willing to sign a covenant that this be a rental building in perpetuity and Coun. Christi Thompson said that the building was meeting key needs in the community (rental, affordable housing as well as daycare space).