IAG Developments is going back to the drawing board with a proposed seven-building development on Parksville’s waterfront.
Alex Watson, Chief Operating Officer for IAG, says they have withdrawn an application to rezone 113 and 161 Island Highway in Parksville.
The development team was set to appear at Parksville city council on Monday Sept. 17 to present a report regarding their application to amend the official community plan and zoning bylaw to allow for high-rise development on the properties.
“If we had gone to council on Monday, we weren’t going to be going with a significantly different proposal,” said Watson. “Based on the last two meetings, they probably would have denied our application. And that would have meant we’d have a six-month moratorium on doing anything with the city.”
Watson says the company needs more time in order to process public feedback.
He said during IAG’s open houses on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, they received 345 written submissions from members of the public. He also says he has received continual emails about the project.
Watson says IAG takes the public feedback seriously.
“We’ll take all this information in, and try and find a way to make this work the best we can,” said Watson. “We’re taking their thoughts into consideration, and we’re going to continue trying to move the project forward.”
He says the response to the project has been fairly balanced, with some people excited about the prospect, and others skeptical and downright unhappy with the height and concerns about stress on Parksville’s infrastructure.
He stressed that this is not the end of the project, but rather a time to re-evaluate. He says IAG will organize the feedback and draft a new plan over the course of the next couple months.
The variety of opinions in the town don’t make it a simple process.
“A lot of the responses are not cut-and-dry,” said Watson.
Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne is optimistic about the development overall, but said that many people are concerned about the height and size of the development. He’d like to see the proposal scaled back somewhat, especially when it comes to height.
“Council as a whole really liked the project. They didn’t like the heights of the building. Everybody you talk to – it comes back to basically that comment,” said Mayne.
“We were getting 10-12 emails a day saying that they don’t want this because it’s too high.
“Every one of them mentioned the same thing.”
Mayne was unable to comment on exactly how high of a building council would approve, but did say that he would hesitate to approve anything higher than the Beach Club, which stands at nine floors with an additional three levels of parking.
Mayne spoke about the need to respect the wishes of community members, but also mentioned that Parksville is in serious need of attracting more young workers to the area.
He says that the percentage of the population in the workforce has been steadily decreasing over the years.
He doesn’t see it getting any better unless the city works to attract young families and workers by supplying adequate housing and community amenities.
“Most young families would be happy to live in a nice condo or apartment building right on the waterfront, right by the beach, right next to the best park on Vancouver Island,” said Mayne.
Mayne says the best aspect of the development would be the creation of a true city centre that connects the boardwalk, beach and downtown.
“Right now, Parksville doesn’t have a centre of town. That would become one. And I think that is really important,” said Mayne.
It’s now up to the developers to come up with another proposal and re-open the conversation with Parksville city council. Watson says he doesn’t have a hard timeline, and will take the next few months to sort through public feedback in an attempt to propose a more palatable solution.
Given the number of responses and opinions in the city, that job will take some time.
“You’re not going to please everyone… everybody has an opinion on what should be done on that piece of property. It’s not an easy job from their perspective,” said Mayne.