After numerous development attempts on his property over the last 10 years, Bernie Walsh plans to build one and two-story cabins beside The Beach Club in Parksville.
“It fits within the current zoning and complies with all the stuff required,” Walsh said, adding that the motel on the property is small and run down for the prime location.
He added he is “looking forward to finally getting something done to bring in more commerce to the downtown.”
Walsh has proposed many developments for the beachfront property at the foot of the Alberni Highway that stirred the community and were rejected by council for various reasons, so he’s applying for a development permit that won’t require any re-zoning or variances.
“Council will only be able to review the form and character,” said mayor Chris Burger.
The mayor pointed out council only has any leverage over applications that require re-zoning or official community plan amendments.
“We can’t just say no to a development permit application because we don’t like it,” he said pointing out he will have to “manage the discussion very carefully,” because he knows people will want to talk about the big picture issues around development and the waterfront, that won’t be relevant.
If they turn it down based on form and character they have to cite very specific and egregious issues or they would likely end up in court, Burger said.
The new proposal is expected at the May 28 council meeting, with 81 single unit cabins ranging from around 90 to 140 sq.m. (1,000 to 1,500 sq.ft.) built in phases as the market allows.
Walsh said they will just sell the cabins to single owners, who will be able to come and go as they please or put them in a voluntary rental pool.
He has admitted frustration with the process in the past, saying they would find a way to build something within the tourist commercial zoning which allows hotels but not the mixed residential, commercial council said they wanted in the past.
“It’s not what we wanted to do, it’s what they’re forcing us to do,” he said after the last rejection, but he is optimistic about getting something built there soon.
He said they could start construction immediately after final approval and suggested if everything fell into place they could start building over the winter with the first sales next summer.