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Stonehurst proposal passes first reading, but heads for more developer discussions

Design and community amenity contributions are headed for more staff-developer discussions as council has asked for a reduction in height and massing.
Here's what you need to know about where the Stonehurst redevelopment proposal stands.

Town of Gibsons gave first readings to Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw amendments for Pacific Ray Development’s Stonehurst proposal at the regular council meeting June 21. However, council paired it with a direction for staff to work with the developer to reduce the mass and height of the proposed residences and to come back with a traffic impact study. 

Also not settled is the community amenity contribution agreement, which Mayor Bill Beamish told the dozen people in the audience, would need to be in place before second reading. Beamish added that the proponent is planning another information session about the project. 

The proposal 

As it stands, the developer is proposing turning the historic Stonehurst home in the five corners area of lower Gibsons, into an inn and bistro and next door constructing a three-to-four storey, 26-residence building. The residences proposal would see the Town selling part of a neighbouring lot (today used as parking) and the developer including some public parking under their building. 

The proposal also includes improvements to neighbouring Inglis Park (which, a staff report points out, isn’t actually zoned or officially recognized as a park). 

Where the council stands

First reading passed three to two, with Coun. Annemarie De Andrade and Coun. Aleria Ladwig against.

Both said that they weren’t against continuing discussions with the developer, but that they wanted a proposal they could support to pass first reading. 

“I would rather be at a point where we have a proposal on the table that I can support in full standing, and that I can vote on with confidence,” said Ladwig. In the June 7 committee of the whole, Ladwig had voted against moving the proposal to first reading. 

De Andrade, who in the committee of the whole had voted in favour of moving the proposal to first reading, said that the neighbourhood plan needed to take precedence over the OCP. 

Official Community Plan vs. the zoning bylaw

De Andrade introduced an amendment that would have asked the developer to conform with the zoning bylaw view protection regulations of the neighbourhood, pointing out that the OCP has a provision where neighbourhood plans take precedence, but no one seconded the motion. 

Director of planning Lesley-Anne Staats told the council that the OCP does have “higher density tourist accommodation / residential land use designation” for the site. The zoning bylaw, on the other hand, looks to limit height and protect views in the area.

The tension between the zoning, the overall community plan, and the desire to protect Stonehurst have been at the heart of many of council’s discussions, other councillors pointed out. 

Ladwig said council had two choices. “If we want the developer to go lower than four storeys, we’re getting into OCP spot zoning,” said Ladwig. “Or, we ask the developer to bulldoze Stonehurst and just build a strip of condos down his own property and be done with it. I’m not convinced that that’s the better solution.

“We as a community have a choice to make. We need to decide, can we live with a bit of extra height up at the top and keep Stonehurst? Or are we willing to let Stonehurst go?”

Ladwig said she’s hoping for something in the middle.

Coun. Stafford Lumley, didn’t want to rehash discussions at the council level, rather wanted to see what the developer and staff could come up with.
“All we’re doing is we’re putting this in a position where staff can work with the developer,” he said. “We’re not voting to keep Stonehurst or get rid of Stonehurst or voting on a five-storey structure. 

‘This is just to move it along so that our staff can work with the developer.”

Council and staff also had a private workshop in recent weeks with staff to go over the proposal and council’s thoughts on it. 

How much to sell the land? 

“The proposal requires the property to be reassessed by independent assessor before before it would be sold,” Beamish said. “[At this time], we don’t know what that price is.”

The land has previously been assessed at $725,000.