Community Services and Westcor zoning amendments headed to public hearing

Sechelt council gave unanimous second reading Nov. 18 to zoning amendments for the Sunshine Coast Community Services housing project at 5638 Inlet Ave. and Westcor’s application to change a property on Mills Road to R1 to allow for a four-lot subdivision.

The next step for both applications will be a public hearing, which is still to be scheduled.

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Community Services is planning a six-storey building that will include new office and program space for the organization as well as 34 affordable residential units for women and women with children.

A report from the planning department said that during referrals to relevant agencies BC Hydro responded that it did not support inclusion of a youth centre on the Hydro right of way that crosses the property. “Use of transmission right of way as community gathering place is discouraged,” Hydro’s response said.

Planning staff also said Community Services will need to enter into a housing agreement “in conjunction with any building exceeding 10.5 m in height. This provision will ensure that any future property owner could not construct market residential units above 10.5 m without a housing agreement approved by council.”

Community Services will already be entering a housing agreement in order to qualify for a Development Cost Charge (DCC) waiver. DCCs on the project are $15,177 per apartment unit and $50.54 per sq. metre of commercial space.

Westcor has applied to rezone one of the lots it owns in the 5400 block of Mills Road to R1, which would allow it to be subdivided into four lots instead of the two permitted under the current zoning.

Planning department staff told council that because the rezoning would mean “an increased development potential,” they have negotiated a community amenity contribution of $10,000 that would be split between the district’s Community Amenity Reserve Fund and its Affordable Housing Fund.

Westcor is also proposing to rezone an adjacent lot to R4, to allow for a development that would include 44 townhouse units in 11 buildings.

That proposal, which still has to go to a public information meeting before council consideration, has drawn criticism from a group of neighbours.

The owners of more than a dozen properties in the area wrote Sechelt council in July, after the application was reviewed by the Advisory Planning Commission.

“We are concerned that it will change the character of our neighbourhood negatively and vastly increase traffic volume on Mills Road, the intersection of Bligh and Mills Road and notably our ability to enter onto the highway safely,” the letter said.

“This increase in density [and] vehicular traffic, the lack of adequate onsite parking leading to the inevitable crowding of street parking, and lack of consideration of a mature forest which will be cut down to make for the development are all contrary to both the Official Community Plan Bylaw, and the interests and desires of the nearby residents.”

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