The proposed height and density of a development in downtown Qualicum Beach caused enough concern for council to send it back to the town’s Advisory Planning Commission, where it has been twice.
“I’m not an expert,” said Coun. Barry Avis after questions were raised, “so I’m wondering if it might not be possible to send it back to the APC.”
The proposal, for 210 First Avenue West, calls for a total of 10 residential units in three buildings on a 1,521 sq.m (third of an acre) lot zoned for mixed commercial and residential.
The proposal would start with buildings A and B at three storeys each, with one unit per floor at the back of the lot. A third two-storey building, referred to as C, would be built later with four units.
The main debate surrounded the proposed 10.94 metre (35.9 foot) height of the back buildings in a zone with a maximum height of 10m (32.8 feet).
The staff report says the town’s official community plan (OCP) “recognizes that height variances in the Village Neighbourhood (downtown) may be appropriate for architectural reasons,” supporting the variance because “flattening the roof to meet the maximum height would detract from the character of the building.”
“The concerns raised by the APC have been addressed,” said director of planning Luke Sales, suggesting there was no reason to send it back since “the developer is very, very close,” on those few points.
He said the density fits within the goal of OPC to densify downtown and that the planned height has already been scaled back from 13 metres and that the only way the proponents could lower the height, without ruining the character, would be lowering the building a metre into the ground.
Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland also asked for clarity on what council would ask the APC, repeating that the application had gone to the APC twice and the proponent had responded.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek agreed with staff, repeating that the plan has already scaled the height back, cautioning against a flat roof that may not look good.
Avis reiterated his concerns about the total number of units, one particular “long boring wall,” and the height, suggesting the APC were the best place to get more guidance.
“Wouldn’t it be refreshing if one of these development proposals that came across our desk actually followed the rules?” Coun. Neil Horner said, not hiding his frustration, suggesting the 13-metre proposal was a bargaining tactic to get the 10.9 metres and insisting it go back to the APC.
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer had excused himself from the discussion, saying he owns property two addresses down the street and Coun. Anne Skipsey agreed with many of Avis’s concerns, focusing on building C’s character.
There was confusion about building C not fitting the character of the first two and its inclusion in the information, though not part of the current application.
There was little discussion about the request to allow residential on the ground floor of building C, which would face First Avenue. The zoning calls for commercial but the staff report says there is currently more need for residential than commercial.
Council unanimously voted to send the proposal back to the 2 p.m., March 2 APC meeting before considering it again.