Nanaimo council denies development permit over parking

NANAIMO – Developers of Summerhill Place apartment buildings wanted to cut parking spaces for each complex by 44 per cent.

Nanaimo city council has nixed development permits for two new hospital-area rental buildings over a request to scale back parking stalls.

In a tie vote, Nanaimo city council denied development permits to the creators of two new apartment buildings on Summerhill Place, near Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Developers, who would add 177 apartments to Nanaimo’s rental housing market, proposed scaling back parking stalls for each of the buildings by 44 per cent.

Owner Dak Molnar presented to council on Monday and said the firm has learned not every renter has a car and with extensive studies, discovered parking ratios set by the city are higher for rental housing than realistically used.

It’s not the first time the Molnar Group has asked for reduced parking. Council granted approval for fewer stalls at its first Summerhill Place building in 2014. Council had raised concern then about adding pressure on an area notorious for parking problems, but Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said having a development that accommodates its own parking wouldn’t make the problem worse.

A new staff report, however, shows that the building appears to consistently generate 15 to 20 vehicles that use on-street parking.

Several councillors raised concerns about the size of the variance and compounding an already challenging issue around parking in the hospital area.

“The parking issue to me is something that is just too severe that I could support a variance to the extent that they require,”said Coun. Ian Thorpe.

Coun. Diane Brennan, however, supported the permit, saying the time has come to take bold steps to begin to address climate change and, as leaders, council needs to encourage people to use transit and bikes. It should create bike lanes and better pedestrian spaces and start to restrict parking, she said.

Councillors Bill Bestwick, Gord Fuller, Jim Kipp and Thorpe voted against granting the development permit with the proposed variances while Mayor Bill McKay, and councillors Jerry Hong, Wendy Pratt, and Brennan were for it.

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