Parksville city council approved first and second reading for a zoning bylaw amendment that could lead to the construction of a 63-unit rental project on Dogwood Street, at right, between Highway 19A and Bay Street. — J.R. Rardon photo

Parksville takes aim at rental relief

Council gives go-ahead to 63-unit apartment project

Seeking to ease a tight rental housing market in the city, Parksville council approved first and second reading of a zoning amendment bylaw to facilitate a 63-unit rental apartment complex on Dogwood Street, near the Quality Resort Bayside off Highway 19A.

The four-storey apartment building would include 35 two-bedroom units of 850 sq. ft. each and 28 one-bedroom units of approximately 600 sq. ft., according to Shawn Vincent of Simba Investments, who presented to council on behalf of the property owners earlier in Monday’s regular meeting at council chambers.

The zoning bylaw amendments would create an R-4 designation for high-density, multi-family housing and would replace the existing R-1 and R-2 designation for single-family dwellings and duplexes.

“The owners have already met with the city planning department and put in a five-year covenant so these can’t be turned into condos,” Vincent told council. “This is not an exercise to get a rezone. They’re ready to go now; their financing is in place.”

Vincent noted a previous project at the location advanced as far as third reading in 2008 before being withdrawn during that year’s economic downturn. He said the current proposal has been expanded and new features added, though the number of units has been reduced to 63 from 80 to accommodate an appropriate ratio of parking spots to housing units.

Most of the parking, 68 stalls, would be in an underground lot.

Coun. Mary Beil asked why there were no three-bedroom units included and asked Vincent if the owners had considered family accommodations in their design.

“We did broach the subject, but looked at Parksville as a whole and what is most needed,” said Dave Echaiz-McGrath of Wensley Architecture, who joined Vincent in the presentation. “We’re hearing businesses are finding it hard to find staff and want accommodations for workers.”

To that end, McGrath said, the two-bedroom units are designed with equal-sized bedrooms, rather than a master and a smaller, secondary bedroom, as well as double storage space to accomodate pairs of people who wish to share rents.

Coun. Leanne Salter asked if rental rates have been established.

“We looked at the market rental rates, and all I can say is this project is created to give diverse rents,” said Vincent, who said exact prices have not yet been set.

Coun. Sue Powell said she was happy to hear about the five-year covenant specifying the units would be for rentals only, and said she supported the proposal.

“Rental accommodations are desperately needed,” Mayor Marc Lefebvre added. “We’re full up the way things are now; I imagine whenever you get this built you’re probably going to have a waiting list.”

A public hearing on the proposed bylaw amendment has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 4, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre, 100 Jensen Ave., prior to third and final reading.

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