Parksville council debates small-lot development

Pioneer Crescent plan calls for two lots to be divided into 12

Parksville council OK’d the first step in a small-lot development on Pioneer Crescent at its April 3 regular meeting.

The application from MacDonald Gray Consultants on behalf of the property owner would convert two large residential lots into 12, 10-metre (30-foot)-wide smaller lots, stirring debate about the desired level of density in residential areas.

The lots — on 4,507 square metres (1.11 acre) overall — would be the same size as other SLR1 (small lot residential) properties in the city, but would be narrower, requiring a new SLR2 zone, roughly half the width of the city’s average.

Director of planning Blaine Russell said the project is not offering affordable housing in the government-subsidized sense, but they may be more affordable because they are smaller.

“Over time, lot sizes transition,” he said. “Historically, people have had larger lots. These lots are not affordable housing — this is just market housing that happens to be more affordable.”

Councillor Bill Neufeld listed concerns about who will pay for the adjoining infrastructure, if emergency services have been contacted about access to the properties which will not include a back lane, and how much input neighbours have had.

Chief administrative officer Fred Manson said it is city policy that the developer always pays all the associated costs, and Russell added that emergency services had been contacted and the next stage, when the development reaches that point, would be public open houses to gather community input.

Neufeld later explained to The NEWS he is not against development, but he’s uncomfortable with the way developments are approved without taking big-picture issues like the environment and the long-term effect on the city properly into account.

He said he doesn’t like the relative lack of detail at the first stage, and though he recognizes it would cost developers a lot more he’d like to see more design and cost details up front.

Coun. Al Greir said he gets a lot of e-mail and comments from people concerned about the amount of change in the city but “the way things are going, that’s the new reality, houses are getting smaller, because they’re more affordable and that’s the bottom line.”

With only Neufeld voting against, council directed staff to start the process to change the zoning to allow the narrow lots and ask the applicant to host an open house.