An artist’s rendering of a new apartment building at 1125 Seafield Cres. (D-Architecture image)

More than 100 apartments for seniors approved in Nanaimo’s hospital area

Development permit issued for 1125 Seafield Cres.

More than 100 units of seniors’ housing are in the works in Nanaimo’s hospital-area hub.

City council, at a meeting Monday, voted to issue a development permit for two apartment buildings totalling 124 units at 1125 Seafield Cres.

The property, owned by the Woodgrove Senior Citizens Housing Society, currently has two buildings totalling 55 units. The phased development of the site will see one new building built and one old building demolished, then a second new building will go up.

The project, a partnership with B.C. Housing, will offer housing “for low- to moderate-income seniors.” Of the 124 new units, 107 will be one-bedroom suites and the other 17 will have two bedrooms. Both buildings will be five storeys tall and though they required height variances of 2.13 metres to 2.67m, they will come in below the hospital area plan’s six-storey designation for multi-family, high-density residential, according to a city staff report.

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Most of city council’s discussion Monday centred on parking. A variance of 11 parking spaces was granted, as the applicant will be providing a parking space for 92 per cent of the units and says that currently, 38 per cent of the property’s residents use a parking space.

“We have adequate visitor parking designated and [enough] for care workers,” said Eric Kutzner, a housing society director. “We are not a care facility … but we recognize that there are care workers that are required for some of our tenants.”

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong was the only member of council to vote against the project, saying residents already struggle with a lack of parking in that area.

“Many seniors drive,” she said. “Especially now with COVID, they do not want to be taking public transportation [and] many of them don’t have the ability to walk those distances to grocery stores.”

Coun. Don Bonner, on the other hand, wondered if the society might have considered even fewer parking spaces on the site.

“It’s very walkable,” he said. “All the amenities that you would probably want, including a pub around the corner and a cannabis store are within a very short walk of that place.”

RELATED: Affordable seniors housing complex pitched for Nanaimo’s hospital district

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