A new development on Wallace Drive could bring 24 new homes, car-sharing, and commercial space to Brentwood Bay. The proposal, by Seemar Developments, is situated between the Bleue Coyote Bar and Grill to the east and Colosso Pizza to the west.
The land is already zoned C-1 commercial, so the development is in keeping with the land’s allowable use. However, due to the size of the site, the developer is seeking a parking variance to build fewer underground residential parking spots (26 instead of the typical 42). As a trade off, they are offering 6 Modo car-share memberships meant for the two-bedroom units in the development. An additional 17 surface parking spots would be shared between residential visitors and customers instead of reserved for one or the other. It was judged that residential visitation was lower in the day than in the night, and customer visitation was just the opposite, so making the same spots available for both would maximize efficiency.
Other contributions include an electric car-charging station, meeting higher energy-efficiency standards, and a covenant which prohibits a strata bylaw or strata council from restricting the rental of a dwelling unit for residential purposes. Since this is a development variance permit, not a rezoning, the developer is not obliged to offer a community amenity contribution or affordable housing contribution, though the subject did come up at a Monday council meeting.
Coun. Alicia Holman introduced an amendment to encourage the developer to consider adding a low-to-moderate income housing option in their proposal (families, seniors, local workers) as part of the application. Holman suggested a covenant could be placed through the CRD to get affordable housing into the development. Coun. Bob Thompson suggested that rather than provide a unit, the developer could potentially contribute $2,000 per unit.
Holman said climate leadership initiatives call for “complete, compact communities,” and since this site is in walking distance of major amenities, it’s “ideally positioned for higher density” where people could walk to work or use transit instead of cars.
Coun. Carl Jensen said he spoke with the developer about seeking CRD involvement in affordable housing, and he said the developer was very much against it and that the “hassles of going through there would not make the project worth their while.”
Seemar Developments had not responded to an interview request by press time.
Mayor Ryan Windsor said the District is not offering them a density bonus (an incentive which allows a developer to build more than the typical number of units allowed on a property to make an affordable housing option financially viable), and the developer’s offer of Modo spots was a community benefit already, so he would not support the motion.
Windsor added the application was only before council because of parking variance on site, if not, “they would have excavators on the site already.”
Coun. Zeb King thanked the proponent of the project, but he also wondered whether it was a lost opportunity to get more density. He wondered if the current zoning “was the best we could do” since it was the last chance to consider the look of that area in his lifetime given how long the building should last.
Holman’s amendment was defeated with five councillors in opposition.
The next step is a public consultation on the development, which is forthcoming.
Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated a Level 3 charging station would be included in this development. While an electric vehicle charging station is included in the development plan, the precise type of charger was not specified. In addition, the 17 surface parking spots would not turn into visitor parking in the evening; instead, those spots would be shared between business and residential visitors at all times.