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Parksville council chambers packed for debate

Parksville residents have mixed opinions about a proposed development

Parksville residents have mixed opinions on the proposal for a mixed use development on the east side of the city.

Many of the standing-room-only crowd at council’s regular meeting last week appeared to be there for the public hearing dealing with a proposal for two properties totalling 0.8 hectares (2 acres) at Highway 19A and Shelly Road. The development would require rezoning and an official community plan (OCP) amendment.

The proposal aims to build three commercial buildings of one and two storeys, and a four-storey residential building with 27 units, commercial on the ground floor and underground parking.

Elaine Hofer spoke first at the public hearing, warning she had a long list of objections, including the fact the development was too close to the agricultural land reserve (ALR) land across the street. She also said there is a glut in the residential market and she suggested the plan is against the city’s OCP and recent strategic plans which call for the city to curtail strip development along the highway.

Charna Macfie agreed with the objections and added parking concerns.

“This particular development may be a good development, but I think it’s in the wrong location,” she said, agreeing with people in previous debates who said it should be closer to downtown.

While several agreed it would be nice to see it closer to downtown, others spoke in favour of the current location and the development in general.

“We have a downtown that stretches from the orange bridge past Moilliet Street,” said Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce executive Director Kim Burden, adding that this project would bring more people to that area of town to shop in the new stores.

“I can’t say more strongly that I’d support development on this empty lot,” said Caroline Waters.

Bud Shelly, owner of the neighbouring ALR land, said he also has concerns about parking, but he’s generally in favour of the proposal, which he said fits with the existing commercial properties along that side of Stanford Avenue.

“The current zoning accommodates 80 per cent of this proposal,” said property owner Bruce Alexander. “The rezoning is for the residential component.”

He pointed out the property is only 1.5 km from city hall, “an easy walk to the city core.”

Council will consider the public comments when the item returns to begin the statutory process.