A potentially transformative proposal for Lantzville’s downtown is now on the table.
District of Lantzville council voted 3-2 on Wednesday, Oct. 6, to give first and second readings to official community plan and zoning bylaw amendments that could allow for upward of 700 residential units to be built in an area called village south.
The application calls for mixed-use buildings and a grocery store near the village core and a range of housing types farther south, including multi-family buildings, townhouses, single-family dwellings and seniors housing. Park land, trails, and a one-hectare parcel of land for community use are also in the plans.
The 23.3 hectares of land, comprising lots on Ware Road, Lantzville Road and Wiles Road, are currently vacant. The application was prepared by Barefoot Planning and Design on behalf of Lantzville Projects Ltd., the same developer behind Lantzville’s Clark-Medd project.
District staff recommended that council give first and second readings to the bylaws.
“Development of the village area will significantly enhance the viability of existing businesses and help attract new businesses to Lantzville,” noted a staff report. “The OCP envisions a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented village area with commercial buildings, mixed uses and public spaces, all of which are anticipated in the [proposal].”
Staff also suggested the project would have a low environmental impact, would provide housing choices, develop community infrastructure, and improve roads and active transportation options.
Staff also indicated that the proposal is consistent with Lantzville’s official community plan. The project’s density is approximately double the expected density in the OCP, but the properties, as undeveloped land, are designated a special area plan, meaning that an SAP approved by council would be attached to the OCP as an appendix.
Coun. Ian Savage brought forward two amendments to try to limit the project’s density to about 40 per cent of what was shown in the application, but both amendments failed 3-2 as councillors Karen Proctor, Will Geselbracht and Jamie Wilson said they wanted to present the application as proposed to the public.
“I think it’s reasonable and I want to wait and hear what the people of Lantzville think about the goals and the objectives in our OCP and the flavour of the community they want to have,” Proctor said. “And it doesn’t come down to density numbers, in my mind. It comes down to form and design, it comes down to character and it comes down to various other land-use principles.”
Savage said development of the properties should be “village scale” and said the project as proposed will vastly increase vehicle traffic and replace nature with asphalt.
“It will mean the land in Lantzville will become nothing more than maximizing density to house a workforce for Nanaimo,” he said.
Savage said his amendments were an attempt to bring the project “to the realm of reality.” Mayor Mark Swain voted in favour of both amendments, saying three- or four-storey buildings “will be looming” in Lantzville.
“We’ve heard that the number [of housing units] could be around 700, but also has the potential to swell in excess of 900. That’s a significant ask over what’s outlined in our OCP and to me that’s concerning and will cause a lot of upheaval in our community…” Swain said. “We need to massage this into something that is somewhat palatable for our residents.”
Now that council has given first and second reading to the bylaw amendments, the applicant will hold open houses about the project, the staff report noted. The application will require a public hearing.