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Development in Nanaimo could be stretching all the way to its northernmost boundary.
Nanaimo city council, at its meeting last Monday, approved a covenant amendment application to advance plans for a 146-unit rental-housing development at 6675 Island Highway North.
“People probably recognize it better as sort of the last property before you leave the City of Nanaimo,” said Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development.
The land behind the Michaels arts and crafts store used to be outside city limits. In 2012, a covenant was placed on the title requiring that a developer there would have to provide a $175,000 community contribution and build a new site access along the old Island Highway and a link to the commercial property on Mary Ellen Drive.
“At that time it was contemplated to be significant commercial development…” Lindsay said. “What has occurred in the interim is there is a new ownership group and they’re taking a very different approach to the property.”
The active application calls for a Phase 1 with three buildings of rental housing totalling 146 units. There is also room on the property for a Phase 2, and while there is no development application process underway for a second phase, Lindsay speculated it could be of similar scale.
Staff’s recommendation was for council to waive a public hearing and amend the covenant so that the developer is no longer required to provide access to and from Mary Ellen Drive.
“With the movement from commercial to residential, we see a significant drop in the traffic demands…” Lindsay said. “We still believe it’s important to secure the $175,000 towards improvements on Mary Ellen, which could include a future controlled access on Mary Ellen to help with the traffic situation.”
Coun. Bill Bestwick asked if council would have an opportunity to ask about considerations such as parking and accessible units and Lindsay replied that the development permit would still need to come before council. No timeline was provided.
Council voted unanimously to waive a public hearing and approve the covenant amendment.