Nanaimo city council approved a minor height variance to allow plans to proceed for a six-storey residential building along Terminal Avenue.
Council, at a meeting June 20, voted unanimously to issue a development permit for a 69-unit building at properties at 515, 529 and 635 Terminal Avenue close to Townsite Road.
The planned composition of the building is 41 one-bedroom units, 24 studio suites and four two-bedroom units. The building meets parking requirements, with 61 per cent of the parking spaces to be provided underground. Vehicle access will be off of Terminal Avenue, though the city has been working with developers in the area to eventually create a laneway behind the building, parallel to Terminal.
The height variance, from 14 metres to 15.5m, was sought “in order to accommodate the stepped building design on a sloping site,” noted a city staff report.
Neighbours registered some opposition, as two residents spoke against the application at the meeting. David Croft, a resident of Aldorann Avenue, had concerns about the building’s potential impacts on traffic and parking in the area and asked that council hold off issuing the permit while asking for traffic and parking studies and more community consultation. Neighbours have created an online petition against the development.
“We’re not debating traffic, we’re not debating the units, we’re strictly looking at a variance of height, that’s all we can consider because everything else, I believe, has met the criteria,” replied Coun. Zeni Maartman.
Jeremy Holm, the city’s director of development approvals, said staff wouldn’t request or recommend a traffic impact assessment for a project of that scale.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong, though she ultimately voted in favour of the application, expressed concerns about the project’s potential traffic impacts.
“Terminal is extremely busy, I can see people doing left turns…” she said. “As [the residents] said, it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Coun. Erin Hemmens urged the neighbours, whose homes are considered just outside the Newcastle neighbourhood, to consider forming or joining a neighbourhood association.
“Development like this are going to keep coming and I think the more that people can be organized and have their voices heard, the better,” she said.
Mayor Leonard Krog said automobile traffic is going to continue to get busier in Nanaimo, for a variety of reasons, and that didn’t dissuade him from voting in favour of the project.
“When I look at the variance for height, which is minor versus the construction of this number of units in a community that is desperate for housing of any kind or quality – and as I’ve said many times before, what is today’s expensive housing may be tomorrow’s moderately priced housing – I think that makes this a relatively easy decision,” he said.