The exact same development that was approved two years ago was denied this time by the same Nanaimo city council.
Council, at a meeting Aug. 30, voted 5-4 against issuing a development permit for a 59-unit apartment complex at 591 Bradley St.
In May 2019, council had issued a development permit for the project, but since then, the property was sold and the development permit expired. City staff had recommended issuing a new development permit with the same watercourse setback and height variances.
Councillors who gave their reasons for denying the permit mentioned riparian protection and traffic concerns.
The entire property falls within the 30-metre minimum watercourse setback from the top of the bank above the Millstone River, though a city staff report noted that the planned buildings would have been situated between 22-52 metres from the high-water mark of the Millstone and “proposed environmental protection measures exceed provincial requirements.”
Councillors Zeni Maartman and Sheryl Armstrong mentioned that not all watercourse setbacks in development applications protect bodies of water as significant as the Millstone River.
“There’s a big difference between being close to the Millstream and close to a ditch,” Armstrong said.
Coun. Ben Geselbracht said he hopes the city will take a closer look at riparian areas in the ongoing official community plan update and said protecting those areas impacts groundwater recharge, flood control, habitat and biodiversity.
“I think that riparian areas are precious. It’s a shame that they weren’t more properly understood and protected in the past,” he said.
Coun. Ian Thorpe said he didn’t think the proposed development, which would have essentially lined up with neighbouring structures, would harm the riparian area, but said he opposed the apartment complex because of its potential to add traffic to what he called a “dangerous corner” at Bradley Street and Millstone Avenue.
Mayor Leonard Krog was the council member most vocally in favour of the project.
“The only difference between our vote in support last time and now is the passage of time. The project hasn’t changed, there’s no greater intrusion into the riparian zone…” he said. “It certainly will impact our credibility as a council if we change our minds now, as I say, when nothing has changed.”
Maartman rebutted that what’s changed is that councillors have two more years of experience.
Councillors voting against the project were Maartman, Armstrong, Geselbracht, Thorpe and Tyler Brown. The 2019 development permit application had been issued after a 7-2 vote with Armstrong and Geselbracht opposed.