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Development permit approved for condos in north-end commercial district

Two five-storey buildings proposed along Metral Drive
Nanaimo councillors approved a development application calling for the construction of two five-storey condo buildings along Metral Drive, beside Cobs Bread bakery. (De Hoog Kierulf Architects image)

A shopping area in Nanaimo’s north end is one step closer to becoming the home of two residential condo buildings.

Nanaimo councillors approved a development permit for two five-storey condo buildings proposed for 6540 Metral Dr., beside Cobs Bread bakery, on Monday night.

Submitted by De Hoog Kierulf Architects on behalf of Windley Contracting/WTF Investments, one of the condo buildings would be 6,367 square metres with 41 one-bedroom units and 32 two-bedroom units, while the second building would be 3,043 square metres and have 17 one-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units.

RELATED: Condos in the planning stages in Nanaimo’s north end

Councillors were required to vote on approving the development after Windley Contracting requested a number of variances including increasing both buildings’ height, reducing the number of off-street parking spaces from 167 to 106, increasing the required percentage of small car parking spaces from 33 per cent to 36 per cent and reducing the rear yard setback from 7.5 metres to four metres.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said she was concerned about parking and wondered whether there would be any designated visitor parking spaces.

“If you look at the total number of people that could be living there we are looking at 139, with 108 parking spaces,” she said. “And they want it decreased?”

Coun. Diane Brennan said the development “hits the mark” on the city’s plan for densification. She said she has no issue with reduced parking because the development is near plenty of transit options, adding that the aim is to move people away from relying on their vehicle.

However, Coun. Ian Thorpe, said while he appreciated Brennan’s “philosophy,” he was concerned about the “reality” of transit habits in the city, calling the reduction of parking stalls extremely concerning.

Jeff Windley, developer for Windley Contracting, said he’s very happy to continue working with staff to address some of the concerns raised. He said the parking situation can be dealt with, explaining that not everyone might want or even need a parking stall and that stalls can be rented out.

“We can work our way through those specifics,” he said, adding that some parking stalls will be designated for visitor parking.

Dale Lindsay, director of community development, told councillors that staff are considering reducing Metral Drive from a four-lane road to a two-lane road and adding on-street parking.

Speaking to the News Bulletin afterward, Coun. Jerry Hong, who is on the city’s design advisory panel, said when he heard Lindsay’s comments about the idea of adding on-street parking to Metral Drive, it alleviated some concerns for him, adding that the area around the development is tricky for motorists.

“I believe that slowing down traffic in high-pedestrian and high-traffic areas is in everyone’s best interest,” he said. “It might take you a little longer to get to it but I think for the safety of the drivers and the people walking and trying to make the streets more pedestrian-friendly, it is a good decision by staff to move forward with that.”

Armstrong and Thorpe voted against issuing the development permit.

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