Sechelt council has approved a development variance for RTC’s Strand project at 5845 Sunshine Coast Hwy., while encouraging the developer to apply for new zoning that would allow increased density on the waterfront lot.
RTC Properties’ original development permit was for 20 units in six triplex and townhouse buildings. The company’s revised proposal is to consolidate the 20 units into two buildings.
In a letter to the district, RTC’s architecture firm, Schmidt and Woolf, said the Strand project is being revised “due to changes in the market conditions.”
“The product previously approved (triplexes and townhouses) is not what today’s buyer is currently looking for… This is causing RTC Properties undue hardship as they are not able to sell the product due to lack of demand,” the letter said.
The firm said the new design is “commensurate with today’s market.”
According to a report from the district’s planning department, the new buildings are “consistent with the use and density provisions of the CD-39 zone,” but because of the way they’ll be sited on the lot a minor variance is required for height.
Councillors didn’t express many concerns about the new proposed design, but several signalled they’d like to revisit the density allowed under the zoning approved by the previous council in 2018. The adoption of the CD-39 zoning followed nearly two years of debate that saw the number of units in the project changed three times from 48 units to 31 and ultimately to 20.
Coun. Tom Lamb said, “This is a spectacular piece of property… I’m disappointed not to be seeing more units built on it. It’d love to see some more density.”
Coun. Matt McLean echoed Lamb’s comment. “This is one of the best available sites in Sechelt in my opinion. It’s on the waterfront, it’s close to downtown and I believe this proposal is not living up the potential of the site,” he said. “If the proponents are listening, I’d like to encourage them to consider a zoning amendment to get a higher site coverage and to increase the number of units.”
Mayor Darnelda Siegers, who was a councillor in 2018 and supported the 31-unit proposal, said she agreed with Lamb and McLean.
“I was really disappointed with where it ended up,” she said. “The location allows for many more units on that site.”
McLean suggested the decision on the variance should be put on hold to give the developer and the planning department time to discuss coming forward with a new zoning application that would allow more density.
But Coun. Eric Scott said he didn’t want to create unnecessary delays for the developer. “If we just move forward with the height variance as requested and [the developer] has the understanding that we’re open to discussion … we’re not going to be holding this [project] up.”
Council voted to approve the variance, with McLean the lone vote in opposition, then added a motion saying council supports consideration of more density on the site and “that staff be directed to work with the applicants to consider options for increased density.”