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Commercial plaza in north end of Ladysmith passes public hearing

Councillors debate proposed land use at 1130 Rocky Creek Rd.
A conceptual rendering of a commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith image)

A proposed shopping plaza at the north end of Ladysmith can proceed with plans following a public hearing.

A June 15 hearing resulted in Ladysmith town council proceeding with third reading of amendment bylaws that would change the zoning of the property from industrial to general commercial. The changes allow for a commercial plaza and drive-thru coffee shop on the property.

Renderings of the plaza show a Dollarama and a Starbucks Coffee shop as proposed tenants of the development.

The official community plan designation and zoning in the area have changed several times. In 2008, the OCP designation and zoning on the subject property and five adjacent parcels on Rocky Creek Road were changed from light industrial to a comprehensive development zone.

Comprehensive development zoning allowed for a hotel and related uses. The hotel development did not proceed, and in 2017 the OCP designation and zoning on the five adjacent parcels were returned to light industrial. In 2018, the town changed the OCP designation on the subject property from mixed-use waterfront to industrial on the vacant properties.

RELATED: Commercial plaza proposed for Rocky Creek and Ludlow intersection

There is an existing covenant on the property from the 2008 development proposal. Green building and landscaping standards must be used. There are provisions for a transit stop, an outdoor public space and a historical artifact acknowledging the location of the 49th parallel, as well as $1,000 of amenity contributions per residential unit.

The developers must also construct and partially fund a roundabout at the intersection of Rocky Creek and Ludlow roads.

Based on the findings of the waterfront area plan transportation review, the Ludlow-Rocky Creek Road roundabout was identified as a development cost charges project. The DCC bylaw allocated $1 million for the roundabout with $990,000 funded from DCCs and a $10,000 from the town’s capital budget, but the town started designing the roundabout in 2020 and the cost estimate is $1.7 million.

The proposed design of the Ludlow/Rocky Creek roundabout. (Town of Ladysmith image)
The proposed design of the Ludlow/Rocky Creek roundabout. (Town of Ladysmith image)

The development and adjacent boulevards will be provided with an outdoor electrical supply and outlets which can be used by the town for special events like the Ladysmith Festival of Lights.

Councillors Jeff Virtanen and Tricia McKay expressed excitement about the development, saying that it is the first step in visible changes happening on Ladysmith’s waterfront, that the development will bring jobs to Ladysmith and that it will help fund what would have been a costly capital project on the roundabout.

“It’s going to create a very important change to the structure of our town and I find it quite exciting that we’re getting to see this piece of land developed — and hopefully some other changes down on our waterfront not too far behind,” McKay said.

However, Councillors Rob Johnson and Marsh Stevens doubted that a commercial plaza was the best use for the property.

“Putting in a 20,000-square-foot Dollarama and a drive-thru isn’t the best use of that property. I would love to see the property developed, I agree with all the benefits of a development on that property, but I don’t think this is the project we want to the gateway to our town,” Johnson said.

He said he’d prefer to see a hotel or a family-style restaurant on the property developed instead. Johnson and Stevens were the only councillors to vote against the development.

No members of the public participated in the hearing.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo city council permits new Dollarama at Bowen Centre