For the second time since December, the District of Sechelt has postponed a special planning meeting to discuss revised landscaping and architectural plans for the proposed Seascape Crescent condominium project on Sechelt's Trail Bay waterfront. Nadine Wong, administrative assistant with the Sechelt's planning department, said the District did not receive the developer's revised plans until Jan 8, which resulted in the postponement of last Tuesday's meeting. The planning department is currently reviewing the plans in preparation for its next meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. "The plans did not come in as scheduled," Wong said. "Reviewing the plans is a thorough process. The condo development is a big issue." Renee McCall, president of West Porpoise Bay Community Association, said she is surprised by the delay and is wondering why the district is putting the project off. "It seems like there is a game going on," McCall said. "In the beginning, the process went really fast. There was a public hearing immediately. There was about two weeks between meetings. It seemed like they were really pushing for it. They went full guns ahead and now the brakes are on."
Council gave second and third readings to the re-zoning and Official Community Plan amendment for the condominium project on Sept. 3, 2003. Before construction can start, council must vote to give the project fourth reading and approve a development permit. The 1.13-hectare lot lies between Inlet Avenue and the Driftwood Inn. Developer Dean Lundy proposes to build two four-storey condominiums along the Esplanade and a three-storey commercial/residential building facing Teredo Street. McCall said she still does not like the concept of such a huge structure. She believes the land should be used to build something more aesthetically pleasing. "It's the only waterfront we have left, McCall said. "Some tourist-oriented shops would be nice. Why aren't we promoting Sechelt as a waterfront village?" The lot is currently zoned for a resort hotel and spa, an earlier project that never got off the ground financially. McCall said she is disappointed that the hotel project was cancelled, because it would have brought more tourists into Sechelt. "It would have attracted people into downtown Sechelt," McCall said. "It would have been a good thing. Let's face it. Our downtown core is very dismal."
According to McCall, the developer's current plans involve the use of acrylic stucco for the structures. She believes that the materials being used will "suck up the moisture like crazy," which will eventually result in a leaky condo situation. "It's his retirement project," McCall said. "Who's going to be responsible in 10 years?"
Sechelt Mayor Cam Reid said he will be relying on the planning staff to review the materials that would be used for the development, adding that professional advice would be used to determine the suitability of the materials for the project. McCall also questions if the developer is going to hire local people for the construction of the project. She said the developer is proposing to conduct a bidding process for the contractor's position. "It doesn't sound like he's going to hire locally," McCall said. "He also mentioned that he is probably going to get his building supplies in Vancouver because it's cheaper there."
Reid said he anticipates the developer will obtain some resources from Vancouver. He said the district experienced the same scenario during the construction of the Justice Building in Sechelt.
"We didn't get as big a benefit as we could," Reid said. "Some of the materials were not available on the Coast."
According to Reid, Lundy has been frank during his discussions with the district and the public. "If it's more expensive on the Coast, he may get his materials from Vancouver," Reid said. "Business is business." Lundy said previous leaky condo problems have led architects and engineers to pool their resources to resolve the problem. He said the buildings constructed today are built in such a way that they will not cause leaks.
"The problem has been resolved," Lundy said. "These people don't want lawsuits."
When asked if he will be using materials from the Sunshine Coast for the project, Lundy said he would if the materials were available at a competitive rate.
McCall said she is hoping there are enough reasons for the planning department to not recommend the condo development to council. "Hopefully they will take a second look at the proposal before they put a rubber stamp on it," McCall said.