The proposed Aldermuir Cohousing project is back in Qualicum Beach, without the name… or the cohousing.
Now called Alder Crossing, proponent Livewell Cohousing’s Gary Morrison described the latest proposal as “the most ecologically sensitive large-scale project in the mid-Island area.”
Introducing the latest idea to Qualicum Beach council, Morrison said they dropped the 29 cohousing units, keeping the more standard portion, now proposing a 29 lot subdivision on the quarter of the 20 acre site closest to Laburnum Road.
In July, council voted against rezoning to allow a total of 58 units on the property due to concerns about setbacks from sensitive wetland. Council expressed support for the cohousing idea, saying that site was the wrong location.
Last week the proponents brought the new idea to council’s committee of the whole meeting, which can only forward recommendations to a regular council meeting for a decision.
“This is a very innovative proposal that includes a strong focus on environmental sustainability, including creating a Passive House demonstration project and also bringing Nanaimo CarShare Cooperative to Qualicum Beach,” Morrison said. “We think this plan is very respectful of the environment around our site and is a plan worthy of the location.”
The development would include highly efficient smaller lots and homes with an EnerGuide rating of 85 or higher, with solar-ready, passive heating and cooling and on-site storm water management, among many other environmental aspects.
They would gift the western most 5.5 acres of wetland to the city for long-term protection and put a restrictive covenant on the middle 6.7 acres, leaving two existing rural homes.
The new subdivision would be clustered in the northeast corner, away from the 100 metre wetland buffer that caused problems originally.
“I like the idea of the town owning the wetland and the land with the cell phone tower,” said mayor Teunis Westbroek, “we would have control over it and we could relocate the cell tower further away from the school when the contract ends.”
But while he said he liked a lot of the proposal, Westbroek said he personally would like to see an affordable housing component, suggesting the developers look at some smaller homes in the 1,400 sq.ft. range.
“Council should be more proactive in terms of setting out what we want to see,” he said, adding new houses should accommodate the existing needs of the community.
With Coun. Barry Avis away, Westbroek and Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer voted to forward the proposal to a regular meeting, but councillors Neil Horner and Anne Skipsey’s votes against made it a tie, meaning it failed. The proponents are still free to bring the matter back to council when the fifth councillor is back, which Morrison said they would do in the near future.