The proposal for a mixed used commercial/residential development at Stanford Avenue and Highway 19A in Parksville has been forwarded on to a public hearing.
The proposed development on two properties totalling 0.8 hectares (2 acres) would include three commercial buildings of one and two stories and a four story residential building with 27 units, commercial on the ground floor and underground parking. The two properties have to be rezoned and require an official community plan (OCP) amendment to commercial/multi-residential.
At previous meetings several councillors said they loved the proposal but it is in the wrong location, being more suitable for closer to downtown.
Project architect Raymond de Beeld previously described it as a “mixed urban village,” different from standard strip malls with more of the shops focused into an inner parking area instead of along the street.
Councillor Sue Powell had a number of questions, including the buffer space to the agricultural land reserve (ALR) property across the street and the inclusion of what the proposal calls “affordable housing.”
Director of community planning Blaine Russell explained that Stanford Avenue provides the required 15 metres between the four-story residential building and the ALR property.
He also explained that the proposed residences would not fit within the city’s formal definition of affordable housing, but is planned as rental apartments, which would be more affordable than condos.
With mayor Chris Burger and councillor Marc Lefebvre recusing themselves and coun. Bill Neufeld absent, the rest of council unanimously passed first and second reading and sent the proposal on to a public hearing at the start of an upcoming regular council meeting.
Both Burger and Lefebvre later explained that they have relationships with property owner Bruce Alexander, who also owns Parksville Chrysler.
Burger, a former employee, said he wanted to ensure the process is not only fair, but appears fair, pointing out conflict is as much about appearance as anything and he didn’t want people to doubt the process.
Lefebvre similarly said he has been buying cars from Alexander for 12 years and Alexander supported Lefebvre’s last political campaign, including keeping brochures around the dealership. While he said he could still make a fair decision, he wanted to avoid the perception of conflict and err on the side of caution.