Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort was granted a development permit for 64 new units last week after a debate that saw two Parksville city councillors change their voting intentions during the discussion.
The resort’s plan is to add 32 buildings with two vacation rental units in each, doubling its current room inventory. Staff had recommended council deny the permit, citing issues related to how far back one of the buildings would be from the top of the bank above the ocean and also feedback from the city’s advisory design panel.
“It appears to staff there are a couple of guidelines that have not been satisfied,” said director of community planning Blaine Russell.
When the discussion began at the meeting Wednesday, councillors Sue Powell and Mary Beil were not in favour of granting the development permit. They wanted Sunrise Ridge to follow the guideline that says buildings must be 15 metres back from the top of the bank. The permit application in front of council Wednesday showed one building 8.3 metres from the top of the bank.
“We didn’t say halfway; we said 15 metres,” said Powell. “There is room for them to be back further.”
“I want to see that setback guideline respected,” said Beil.
There were only four members of council at the meeting Wednesday (one councillor has resigned, one was ill and another on vacation): Powell, Beil, Coun. Teresa Patterson and Mayor Marc Lefebvre. With Powell and Beil seemingly opposed, the permit application looked destined to fail.
The proponent, represented by Bob Rocheleau of Praxis Architects, provided the city with geotechnical reports that supported their plan. He also said moving the buildings would cause issues with the development. “It may be impossible to get the parking we need for those units (if they were moved),” said Rocheleau, who also said the changes suggested by the design panel would add $60,000 to the cost of the project.
Lefebvre said his support of the permit was based on the big picture.
“I’m looking at this in a larger context, a context of tourism,” said the mayor.
“We all know what tourism means to our community. I would like to see this project go forward.”
In the end, Beil said she would support the permit “with some reluctance.” Powell eventually voted in favour of issuing the permit, but not without comments for the landowners.
“I understand it’s economics as well,” said Powell. “But you bought the property.”
Council first rescinded its motion to deny the application then voted unanimously to issue the permit.
Read Thursday’s edition of The NEWS for more from Wednesday’s council meeting.