Meeting in person for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, Parksville council talked this week about a proposed development and a development variance permit for a property on Hirst Avenue West.
Council met on June 1 and was able to hear from in-person speakers on the proposed development, for a 12-unit townhouse and the associated parking and landscaping.
One speaker, Lisa Anderson, who lives near the open lot, said when she bought her house, she knew there would be some development, but that it seems excessive. She said she signed a petition going around about the property.
“The parking is going to be a big problem, I’ve been here three years and it’s a problem,” she said.
Comments and signed petitions were sent to council, which expressed concern around the development variances changing the streetscape.
Council went over a few recommendations for the property – the first one, “that the minimum dimension defined for useable open space be reduced from 6.1 metres to 3.4 metres to allow for patio privacy screens,” passed, with Coun. Doug O’Brien and Coun. Marilyn Wilson voting against.
Discussion around the minimum building setback being reduced from 6.0 to 4.5 metres to allow for another townhouse went between councillors being concerned about housing prices and the Official Community Plan.
O’Brien and Wilson were concerned about the setback affecting the OCP, while Coun. Mark Chandler and Mayor Ed Mayne were worried reducing the number of townhouses would drive prices up.
“I’m not sure it’s really necessary to vary the setbacks just to allow the accommodation for one more unit,” said O’Brien.
“The problem being is if we go down to that 10 units, we’re going to impact that end price result and it’s going to drive it up and higher and put it out of reach for some people that might have just been on the border to buy their first place,” said Chandler.
Ultimately, the variance for the setback failed, with O’Brien, Wilson and Coun. Adam Fras voting against.
Another variance was requesting a reduction of three parking spaces for the units – which was one of the main concerns of people writing to the city. It passed, with O’Brien and Wilson voting against.
Lastly, “that the maximum permitted fence height requirement for townhouses to be relaxed from 2.0 metres to 3.0 metres for fence trellises located in proximity to the front lot line” passed unanimously, with council not seeing a problem with the height.
Ultimately, council approved the issuance of the development permit for the property, with Wilson as the sole opposed voter.