The development permit for the Telus Living rental build in Downtown Sechelt was approved unanimously by council last week, at the June 15 meeting.
(Coun. Janice Keuster recused herself, after saying the company she works for has been asked to bid on the project.)
As he presented an overview of the design, the project’s architect Pablo Yuste said it’s about addressing the “pressing need” for rental housing on the Coast and in the downtown core of Sechelt. The proposed Telus Living project includes a mix of 59 rental units, from studios to three-bedrooms, ranging from 41 to 120 square metres. The site, at 5528 and 5536 Inlet Avenue, is the current location of the Cozy Court Motel and an existing Telus facility. That Telus facility will remain, continuing to provide services, while the rest of the site will be developed into a six-storey wood-frame building with about 270 square metres of ground floor retail and commercial spaces, and an opportunity for public art on a frontage wall of the parking structure.
Yuste said they are addressing sustainability by building to Step 3 of the Building Code, which he called “better than” what the code required. Staff are also requiring a minimum of 25 per cent of residential parking stalls be ready for Level 1 electric vehicle (EV) chargers, and six spaces must have access to Level 2 chargers. Coun. Alton Toth said he thinks all of the parking spaces should have access to demand-managed connections suitable for Level 1 charging, and the project representative asked for time to look into it, particularly in regards to BC Hydro electrical services and other infrastructure.
At this suggested amendment, staff suggested deferring the decision on the development permit to the next council meeting, likely the July 6 meeting. But only councillors Toth and Eric Scott voted in favour, and it was defeated.
Yuste also said since receiving comments on the project, they have improved the previously monochromatic facade of the building, increased the parking count and increased the courtyard space by about 30 per cent.
Coun. Tom Lamb asked about space allocated for bicycles, and Toth asked to confirm the rental suites would not just be available to Telus employees. Yuste confirmed the units are not just for Telus employees.
Coun. Matt McLean said he appreciates the design revisions and the art project on the blank wall. Mayor Darnelda Siegers said she liked the design, commending the welcoming nature of the building and the streetscape.
With the development permit up for council consideration, approval is contingent on the adoption of related Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw amendments. Sechelt senior development planner Sven Koberwitz said the site has a Downtown Centre Designation under the OCP, and a concurrent rezoning application has been considered by council and given third reading. The CD-46 zone was created specifically for this site, and falls under two development permit areas.
Conditions of adoption included registering a housing agreement to secure all the units as market rental, and a community amenity contribution of $1,500 for 40 units for a total of $60,000 required to be paid to the district prior to adoption. Those will be forthcoming, Koberwitz said. The developer will also have to address recommendations from the traffic study to the satisfaction of Sechelt’s director of engineering and operations.
While Lamb said he believes Telus Living is a “great project for the District of Sechelt," he asked about how many rooms are currently on the site at Cozy Court Motel, raising a concern for those residents. Siegers said most of the residents of Cozy Court Motel have found new locations, and said Telus extended the timeframe for them.