Affordable housing project on Shaw Rd. goes to first reading

Gibsons council is poised to give first reading to the zoning and official community plan (OCP) amendments needed for the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society (SCAHS) to move ahead with a development on Town-owned property on Shaw Road.

Earlier this year, council endorsed the site at 571 Shaw, the vacant lot beside the Christenson Village long-term care facility, and amended the covenant on the property to allow for “not-for-profit affordable housing that is not age-restricted.”

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The original proposal was for a different Town-owned property, the Charman Creek Lands.

The application for zoning and OCP amendments from the SCAHS and its partner New Commons Development was presented to the Town’s planning and development committee July 9.

The proposal calls for 70 units of below-market rental housing to be built in two phases. According to a report from the planning department, the first phase includes 40 units in a four-storey apartment building fronting Shaw Road, and the second phase would see 30 units built immediately west of the first phase.

The units would be a mix of bachelor and up to three-bedroom units. Five units in each phase would be fully accessible and five would be adaptable, making it easier for residents to age in place.

The report recommended forwarding the bylaw to council for first reading, followed by a community information meeting, then second reading and public hearing.

Coun. Aleria Ladwig, who chairs the committee, suggested their recommendation could call for council to give the bylaws two readings and then move to public hearing.

“The advantage of that is we get to move this project along. This proposal is already in response to a significant consultation process that’s already taken place,” she said.

Others on the committee, including Mayor Bill Beamish, said the current proposal is essentially a whole new project and should be treated like one.

“Even though it’s [still] on Shaw Road it’s a different neighbourhood on Shaw Road and those neighbours haven’t been consulted in the same way. If we go to second reading, then we’re going directly to the public hearing and that can be not as efficient a way of informing people,” said Beamish, who also asked that the O’Shea – Oceanmount Community Association be included in the list of organizations to be asked for comment.

Coun. Annemarie De Andrade said she agreed with Beamish’s view. “Especially because the first project had been controversial and there has been a feeling that there was already a decision and not a consultation. I would feel more comfortable to hear from the community.”

“I agree the immediate neighbours need to have their input,” said Coun. David Croal. “I think everyone’s pro this project. A lot of work’s gone into it.”

In response to a question at the end of the meeting, Andy Broderick of New Commons Development said applications for grant funding and financing from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation are pending. 

“We expect a letter of intent from them before Sept. 1,” he said.

The report from director of planning Lesley-Anne Staats said that in addition to contributing the land, the Town expects the housing society and New Commons to ask the Town to cover development fees, which are currently estimated at around $76,000 for fees and permits and $318,000 in development cost charges.

Council endorsed the committee recommendation at its evening meeting, setting the stage for a July 24 information meeting to be held at Christenson Village from 4 to 6 p.m. and putting the project on a timeline that could see the zoning and OCP bylaws adopted in October.



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