A proposed zoning bylaw amendment for a Jensen Avenue West lot, next to city hall, went to public hearing on March 4. - File photo

Jensen Avenue rezoning draws opposition, concerns from public

Proposed zoning bylaw amendment for lot next to city hall went to public hearing

A Parksville public hearing drew some opposition and concerns regarding a proposed zoning bylaw amendment for a Jensen Avenue property, next to city hall.

The piece of land owned by the City of Parksville, notable for recently being occupied by homeless campers with their tents, went to a public hearing on March 4 for a proposed amendment to ‘Zoning and Development Bylaw, 1994, No. 2000’.

The property, on Jensen Ave West and the Alberni Highway, is currently zoned as single-family residential and is being proposed to be rezoned to downtown residential commercial, in order to allow apartments, multiple-family residential development, retail, offices, parking or a combination of these uses.

RELATED: Zoning amendment proposed for Parksville property used by homeless campers

The city received two letters of correspondence regarding the proposed zoning amendment, one expressing concerns about the possibility of parking loss and how that could affect businesses in the area, and the other asking questions regarding the public input process.

A Parksville resident named Elaine was first to speak to Parksville city council at the public hearing.

“I’m speaking today because I’m concerned that not only are we losing our urban forest as we look around us but our green space and this proposal is certainly one area where it will be lost,” she said.

“There are some nice trees in this grassy block, the only green space around city hall. Trees and grass are more appealing and welcoming then concrete and glass.”

She said she believes there is enough “hard space” in the Jensen Avenue West area and adding more will add to the “demolition of our urban forest.”

“We appreciated the urban forest when we moved here so we don’t want to see it all disappear,” she said. “We are losing that charm and quaintness that made Parksville so appealing. I hope that the city takes a step back and considers what type of city they want and what our resident population wants.”

Parksville resident Mara Nord said she was speaking on behalf of Lee Avenue residents, with whom she co-manages a building on that street.

“The concerns are with parking,” Nord said.

“If you take away the lot, is the parking out in front of the homes going to become something that is going to be congested and lots of traffic? There is lots of families on that road.”

A second concern Nord expressed was the height of the buildings and if views from the Lee Avenue homes would be jeopardized.

“The concern at this point in time is how high the buildings will go and the lack of parking in that area,” she said.

Michelle Jones of Oceanside Development and Construction Association — who have been representing the construction and development industries on Vancouver Island for the past 20 years — said she and the association were concerned with the zoning amendment bylaw process.

“The city indicated that it’s intent in proceeding with this zoning amendment bylaw was to begin the public process, the public dialogue. In our experience that’s not how you begin it with a public hearing,” Jones said. “You begin the process with public information sessions and open houses and we really think that the city should have an open house with the whole community to discuss this property and the rezoning.”

Jones requested city council suspend or delay the rezoning process and hold a public information session.

Coun. Teresa Patterson put forward a motion that the city hold a public information meeting regarding the Jensen Avenue lots and delay or suspend the public hearing but it was not seconded by another member of council.

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

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