A proposed development for the property at Despard Avenue and Alberni Highway in Parksville, shared during a zoning application deliberation by council March 20, would include a mix of commercial, high-density residential and single-family homes. — Image courtesy Macdonald Gray Consultants

Parksville housing project gets boost

Council passes first reading of zoning bylaw for Despard Avenue residential development

A large, multi-density residential and commercial development off Despard Avenue and the Alberni Highway in Parksville has been green-lighted for further exploration.

Parksville City Council gave first reading during its regular meeting Monday to a zoning bylaw amendment that would replace the existing RS-1, single-family residential designation with a combination of five interlocking zone designations.

The approval of the zoning changes would allow a large development that would include commerical property, apartments or townhomes, an assisted care facility and single-family homes.

“We’re looking to do what the community envisions, instead of just another urban sprawl development,” said Nigel Gray of Macdonald Gray Consultants, who provided a presentation to council earlier in the meeting.

“We looked at the OCP (Official Community Plan of 2013) and the OCP is very forward-looking when it comes to this corner … to encourage walkable, complete communities.”

Gray submitted the rezoning application on behalf of the land owner, Insights Holdings Ltd., Inc.

Though Gray shared a conceptual map of the potential development, Monday’s vote was strictly for the rezoning bylaw. Any specific subdivision proposal would be taken up separately, only after the zoning change has been approved.

The proposed new zones include 1.2 hectares of neighbourhood commercial (NC-1), 5.3 hectares of small-lot residential (SLR-1), 1.9 hectares of high-density residential and care (RSC-3), 1.4 hectares of high-density residential (RS-3) and 0.8 hectares or medium-density residential (RS-2).

The development concept shared by Gray indicated a total of nearly 300 residential units. As part of the bylaw, the developer will have to complete several prerequisites before second reading is taken on the bylaw — including a public open house, a market impact study and information to council demonstrating how the change in land use would maximize assessed values.

The proposed development would range from commercial use at the property’s southwest corner, on Despard and Alberni Highway, backed by multi-unit residences, which in turn would give way to small-lot, single-family dwellings as the development moves toward existing residential properties fronting Moss Avenue to the north and Craig Street to the east.

“The OCP supports walkable, complete communities with multi-level townhomes or row houses, that would step down to single-family residential, so there is an appropriate transition from existing neighbourhoods without the shock of too high a density,” said Gray.

As part of its application, the developer has also offered to commit a $500,000 amenity contribution to the City of Parksville. The money anticipates off-site costs to the city related to the project, including water and sewer installation, sidewalks and roadworks, as well as an expected increase in calls to Parksville Volunteer Fire Department.

Insights Holdings would also provide wide sidewalks along the Despard Avenue West and Alberni Highway frontage, bike lanes, and a reduction in driveway crossings along proposed sidewalks.

Coun. Leanne Salter noted the proposed development would result in more than three times the number of residences the property would have supported under RS-1 zoning, and asked whether the city’s water supply system could supply that volume.

“Under the original zoning we’d be going from around 117 units to looking like 400 units on this (development),” Salter said. “That’s a significant increase. Where are we going to get the water?”

In a written review, the city’s engineering and operations department said it will need information from the developer to perform a servicing review of “water, sewer, storm water, geotechnical, drainage, access and traffic implications.”

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