Charman Creek housing project going to open house in fall

The mayor of Gibsons says he wants to keep the possibility of building an affordable rental project next door to Christenson Village open, even as the Town finalizes design proposals for a site on the Charman Creek Lands.

At council’s Sept 4 meeting, planning staff presented the results of a design charette for the Charman Creek Lands proposal, and a draft memorandum of understanding with the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society, which is seeking BC Housing funding for the project.

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The property at 571 Shaw Road was most recently under a sale agreement with Trellis Seniors Services, but that has since been abandoned because the company is now looking to build a long-term care facility on shíshalh Nation land in Wilson Creek.

Coun. Jeremy Valeriote said he was ready to support an agreement based on the Charman site, because of the clause that said development would go forward, “with an expectation that it will include measures to reduce negative impacts on the remaining portion of the parcel and the neighborhood.”

“I’ve never loved the green field aspect of this, but I understand how import this is to the community. I don’t think jumping over to 571 Shaw Road is the solution, although it may be the next step in this… I believe the sensitivity to the [Charman] site of what’s been done so far seems appropriate.”

Mayor Wayne Rowe said he would also support the recommendation, but wanted to “at least leave the council that will be following us with the idea perhaps of keeping an open mind… I do have some concerns about the amount of green growth that has to be disrupted in this area. I also have some concerns that, given the Eagleview [Heights] development as well, that we’re pushing too much into one area.”

Rowe said it’s now unlikely a new long-term residential care facility will be coming to Gibsons in the foreseeable future and Shaw Road should be kept in mind as a more suitable and economical spot for the housing project.

Coun. Silas White said he hasn’t given up hope that Shaw Road could still be used for residential care.

“There’s recognition from VCH (Vancouver Coastal Health) and from the Ministry of Health that there’s a strong need, beyond the Trellis facility, for more beds on the Sunshine Coast … and they’re very interested in expanding Christenson Village,” said White, who added that Shaw Road could be explored as a site for both a Christenson Village expansion and affordable housing.

Coun. Charlene SanJenko said she doesn’t see it as an “either/or” choice, and hopes to see both the Charman project and some mix of residential care and housing at the Shaw Road site.

The proposed designs that emerged from the charette both include 40 units of rental apartments running in size from bachelor to three-bedroom in four buildings.  The main difference was the alignment of the buildings and the number of trees that would have to be removed. One plan calls for 17 and another for 29.

The tree survey conducted for the plan raised concerns that the area was being marked for full logging, prompting the Town to issue the following clarification:

“A comprehensive survey had been completed on the site in order to identify trees with diameters of one metre, 0.7 metre, and 0.5 metre. This work was completed in order to protect the trees by designing the proposed affordable housing development around them. A core design principle of this project is to limit the number of trees impacted by the development.”

The Town is now planning an open house in the fall to present the final concept for the Charman Creek development.

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