Parksville residents will have a chance to voice their opinions on a proposed 800-unit planned neighbourhood near the Englishman River in February 2023.
Council voted, during its Nov. 21 regular meeting, in favour of scheduling a public hearing regarding an official community plan (OCP) amendment and a zoning and development amendment bylaw to pave the way for the ‘Riverside’ development at 1465 Greig Rd., which would be constructed over a decade or more, if approved.
A public hearing is required before council can hold a vote on giving the proposal a third reading.
Coun. Sean Wood’s motion to schedule the hearing was passed, with Coun. Amit Gaur opposed.
Gaur made a motion earlier to rescind the first two bylaw readings, passed by the previous council in July, and deny District Group’s application.
“This proposal to build 800 units, which will add more than 2,000 people along an endangered river,” said Gaur. “On a flood plain surrounded by wetlands, in a thick coastal Douglas fir forest, which is the most endangered in B.C., is contrary to the OCP, against the wishes of the people and is very detrimental to our environment.”
His motion was defeated with Coun. Mary Beil, Coun. Adam Fras, Coun. Joel Grenz, Coun. Sylvia Martin, Wood and Mayor Doug O’Brien opposed.
Beil said she seconded Gaur’s motion for discussion, but felt it would be good to have District Group come to council and answer questions about the project. She added she has “serious concerns” about the proposed development.
“We have a responsibility as council to provide a predictable process that anybody coming before us can expect to get,” said Grenz. “So we have good partnerships with people in the community.”
Fras added the developers have a good history in Parksville and have been responsive to previous requests from council.
A public hearing was originally set for Sept. 19, but was postponed at the request of District Group.
The developer wants to rezone the land to comprehensive development and change its OCP designation from single-unit residential and planned neighbourhood to just planned neighbourhood.
The plans call for half of the 140 acres to be developed, while the other half is preserved as parkland and environmental setback.
The developer will come back to council on Dec. 5 with an updated presentation.
O’Brien said he anticipates that presentation will have more detail than previous ones.
“The last council remarked, time over time again, when this came before us, that we didn’t have enough details,” O’Brien said. “We want the best project, but we don’t want it to be at the cost of the environment.”
The public hearing is set for Feb. 13, 2023.