Parksville council chambers echoed with applause on Thursday, after an amendment to the Official Community Plan was voted against — resulting in a controversial affordable housing development on Shelly Road not moving forward.
At first, the motion for the third reading of the OCP amendment looked like it was going to go through. Coun. Adam Fras initially abstained from voting, which would mean his vote would count as a ‘yes.’ This is because of a Parksville council specific council procedure bylaw, which means a councillor abstaining from voting is technically voting in the positive.
Fras, along with councillors Marilyn Wilson, Doug O’Brien and Teresa Patterson, then voted against the third reading, with councillors Al Greir, Mark Chandler and Mayor Ed Mayne voting for it.
The OCP amendment would have allowed council to give consideration to “allow residential and/or multi-unit residential land uses for affordable housing, rental housing, special needs housing or where it is determined to address gaps in the existing housing inventory.” From there, council could have passed a bylaw to allow rezoning of 130 Shelly Rd. to allow for medium-density housing. The city passed first and second readings of the bylaw, which if approved would have allowed for 28 to 47 residential units on the land. The land is currently zoned for single-family residential use right now and was purchased with $650,000 of parkland reserve funds.
A Jan. 20 forum in Parksville heard from various residents about the OCP amendment, as well as the 120 Shelly Rd. specific bylaw. All residents who spoke were unanimously opposed to the development, most stating environmental concerns surrounding the development, the majority of which is located on a 200-year-old floodplain.
The vote came after Mayne proposed amendments to the bylaw. He said he gave the rezoning of 130 Shelly Rd. a lot of consideration since the public hearing on Jan. 20, and that he wants to take concerns seriously. Mayne proposed several things, including restricting development to the upper western area above the floodplain and steep bank, as well as environmental assessment studies.
“I believe that these will protect the lands as requested by the vast majority of our community,” he said. “If my amendments are approved, then I will be supporting the rezoning.”
O’Brien spoke firmly against amending the OCP. He said changing the OCP isn’t transparent since many citizens think that changing the OCP in this way would just affect 130 Shelly Rd. He also echoed environmental concerns brought up at the public forum.
“To suggest that housing should be allowed is disrespectful to the entire OCP process,” he said.
The bylaw specific to 130 Shelly Rd. was deferred after the vote because without the amendment, its contradictory to the OCP. That means 130 Shelly Rd. is deferred indefinitely unless the OCP is changed.