An application for a development permit to build a small cabin on an islet off Protection Island has been denied for the third time by a Nanaimo city council.
The lot, at 25 Spyglass Lookout, was purchased by Alfredo Tura, of Comox, with the intent to put a cabin and raised walkway that would also connect sewage, water and electricity to and from Protection Island. Tura’s previous permit application was denied in 2015, as was an application made by a previous owner in 2004.
Tura’s second application was discussed at a regular council meeting Dec. 6 when city council deferred a decision until the council meeting Monday, Jan. 17.
After hearing from several delegations for and against the proposal, Coun. Ben Geselbracht made a motion to deny the application.
“This development, it’s in contravention of our zoning bylaw for watercourse protection,” Geselbracht said. “Allowing the requested variances would be in extreme misalignment to our city’s espoused values of environmental protection and public safety.”
Geselbracht went on to say the city does not allow construction on shorelines in environmentally sensitive areas in an era of climate change and extreme weather.
“Allowing this residential development to occur would, I think, be gravely irresponsible, if not bordering on ridiculousness, so I am not in support of it,” he said.
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Nanaimo city council votes 6-3 to deny a controversial development permit application for a cabin at 25 Spyglass Lookout on Protection Island. Mayor Krog and councillors Turley and Armstrong were opposed to denying the application… #ProtectionIsland pic.twitter.com/B1U1UK36XU
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) January 18, 2022
In their arguments against the permit, councillors Geselbracht, Tyler Brown, Erin Hemmens and Ian Thorpe cited effects of climate change and environmental variances, though Coun. Jim Turley pointed out there are a number of buildings on the Nanaimo waterfront that are built on pilings over the water, as was proposed on the Spyglass Lookout property.
“This particular structure is on pilings six feet above the ground level, so I think that needs to be taken into consideration,” Turley said.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog supported approving the permit and suggested the proposal would be “as good as it gets” for that property.
“To deny someone the opportunity to build on a property what I have described already as a very modest dwelling, it is not our right to do so and sterilize their use of the property,” Krog said.
He responded to the suggestion from those opposed to the development,that the property be purchased and converted into a public park.
“In a perfect world and we had unlimited funds, it wouldn’t be a bad proposition, but when we already have 18 per cent of Protection Island in parkland already, spending several hundred thousand dollars, essentially, to acquire this as parkland does not strike me as fair or reasonable…” Krog said. “I for one am not prepared to turn a situation where this council could approve a dwelling into a situation that invites litigation, so I will be opposing Coun. Geselbracht’s motion.”
The motion to deny the development permit application passed 6-3, with Krog, Turley and Coun. Sheryl Armstrong opposed.