Nanaimo city council voted 7-2 on Monday to issue a development permit to Grasteve Enterprises Ltd. for a 59-unit rental building at 591 Bradley St. (RAYMOND DE BEELD ARCHITECT image)

Nanaimo council approves 59-unit apartment building above Millstone River

Councillors vote 7-2 to issue development permit at 591 Bradley St.

An apartment building on the banks of the Millstone River will be allowed to proceed, despite being situated within the river’s watercourse setback area.

Nanaimo city council voted 7-2 on Monday to issue a development permit to Grasteve Enterprises Ltd. for a 59-unit rental building at 591 Bradley St. The building will be three storeys high along Bradley with a six-storey elevation facing the Millstone.

Council’s decision involved a variance reducing the City of Nanaimo’s watercourse setback from the top of the bank of the Millstone River from 30 metres to zero metres; however, the structures will be 22 metres from the Millstone at their nearest point and 52 metres away at the farthest point, according to a city staff report. Provincial streamside protection and enhancement area laws require a 15-metre setback.

Neighbours attending Monday’s meeting opposed the development, citing environmental and traffic concerns.

Council acknowledged that the developer had made changes to the application, including decreasing the number of units and withdrawing a request for a parking variance. City staff noted that the 30-metre watercourse setback extended to the opposite side of Bradley Street in some spots.

“There’s a difference between the provincial regulation and requirements, which the application does meet, and the city requirements, which measuring from the top of the bank would put that setback actually through the property, out into the street and in some cases on the other side of the road,” said Dale Lindsay, city director of community development. “So it is necessary to look at variances in order to allow for the development of the parcel.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe noted that a new watercourse setback would be protected by a new covenant on the property.

“I’m understanding of the concern of the residents, but I think this project is now at a scale and a design that I am able to support it,” he said.

Mayor Leonard Krog agreed, adding that the community also has a significant need for housing.

The two dissenting votes came from Coun. Sheryl Armstrong, who said her vote was based on traffic and the building’s potential shadow, and Coun. Ben Geselbracht, who said riparian areas are undervalued.

“I think that we’ve encroached on it so incredibly much in the development of our city, our baseline of what’s acceptable is very skewed. [The setback] should be back on Bradley Street,” Geselbracht said. “That covenant was put in place for reasons of erosion and protecting the bank and I’m not OK with it going across. I don’t think it sends a message that we take our banks and our riparian areas seriously.”

Jean Playdon, representing strata owners at 571 Bradley St., asked that the building’s footprint be reduced to conform with the existing covenant boundaries, adding that the slope is “very steep” and unstable.

“If there is a land slip during the course of construction of this development, how can the city claim to have protected our wild Pacific salmon?” she asked. “Is the city being good stewards of our resources by permitting this development along the steep slope bordering our salmon-bearing Millstone River? We think not.”

Paul Chapman, executive director of Nanaimo and Area Land Trust, spoke generally about riparian areas and said Nanaimo is lucky to have salmon-bearing streams and their value as habitat is “too dear to lose and too difficult to replace.”

“Riparian setbacks exist for a reason. They should not be routinely subjected to variances,” he said.

Architect Raymond de Beeld spoke on behalf of Grasteve Enterprises and said some of the requirements from the covenant, established in the mid-‘90s, are “pretty obsolete as far as the details of them” and said the river bank can be made stable.

“We don’t usually get too involved with geotechnical engineers at the development permit stage, but we’ve had a lot of discussion about how to make the bank stable and how to deal with storm water detention and everything…” de Beeld said. “We think we have a beautiful building, nice streetscape. I think there’s some viability and I think there’s appropriate density.”

READ ALSO: Policy change aims to protect habitat



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Senior found after search of north Nanaimo-Lantzville area

Wayne Strilesky found safe in thick brush by search and rescue canine team

Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Tasha Brown now in Jersey in the British Isles, fundraiser being held in Nanaimo

Swollen Members rapper Madchild to perform at the Queen’s

Rapper’s new album ‘Demons’ reflects on his struggles with drug addiction

Another section of Bruce Avenue closing for construction

New curbs, gutters, lighting installation will detour traffic to Howard Avenue for three weeks

Hundreds of Kin club members meeting in Nanaimo this week

Service club holding national convention Aug. 21-24

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

UPDATED: V.I. Raiders earn first win of the season

Raiders blow out Kamloops Broncos in home opener in Nanaimo

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

Most Read