A rendering of a townhouse development with mid-block pedestrian path, part of the Lantzville Village South special area plan that was voted down following a public hearing Monday, July 25. (Barefoot Planning and Design image)

Plans for hundreds of homes in Lantzville’s village core halted

Village South OCP amendment bylaw fails on 2-2 tie vote

A plan for hundreds of homes in Lantzville’s village core will not proceed.

An official community plan amendment bylaw for Lantzville Village South failed on a 2-2 tie vote following a District of Lantzville public hearing Monday, July 25.

The special area plan for 23.3 hectares along Lantzville, Ware and Wiles roads, put forward by Lantzville Projects Ltd., had also gone to a public hearing in April, after which council asked the developer to improve the plan.

The revisions to the plan since then included a reduction from 732 units to 632 and the addition of seniors’ housing. The special area plan also included mixed-use buildings, a grocery store, multi-family buildings, townhouses, single-family house, park land, trails, and land dedicated for community use.

Most residents who spoke at this week’s hearing felt the changes to the plan hadn’t gone far enough and repeated concerns about density and uncertainty about property tax implications.

Coun. Ian Savage said the revised special area plan was an “inadequate, below-average, disjointed assembly of unknown building types.”

He said Lantzville’s village core currently feels separated from north Nanaimo, and suggested he’d prefer to maintain that characteristic rather than “create a new mass of unsettled clamour which will form an unbroken link of brash intrusion from Woodgrove to the highway and right into our village area.”

He said there is no need to waste the reports and the work that has gone into the Village South project, and said he’s in favour of the next council working with the developer on a “high-standard” plan in an “expedited fashion” right after the fall municipal election, while at the same time attaining community support for any new plan.

“Rush, rush, rush is not a prescription for quality, it’s simply a vehicle to get something done the community doesn’t want,” Savage said. “The next council will be perfectly competent to complete this task. They can create a masterpiece which will also be highly profitable for the developer.”

Mayor Mark Swain indicated he was uncomfortable with moving the Village South project ahead without more details about the potential dwelling forms. He would like to see affordable housing as a component of the project, he said, while noting that the OCP calls for “limited” development of apartments and condominiums.

On the other side of the debate, Coun. Jamie Wilson said he was in favour of the revised special area plan as he said it would bring diversity of housing, and said Village South’s density would “provide some vitality and heartbeat to our downtown core.”

Wilson said a vote against Village South invites “way more density” at a later date, as he said the pressure to increase density will only increase over the coming decades. He said the plan balanced alignment with the OCP with the needs of the community and said he was voting to “do what’s right” for Lantzville over the long term.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to shop local when it comes to things like a grocery store,” Wilson said. “Otherwise we are just a bedroom community to Nanaimo which with every passing decade will only make more sense to, well, just be a part of Nanaimo.”

Coun. Will Geselbracht wondered about what might become of the land, and expressed concern that the decision could end up being taken out of the district’s hands.

“This [vote] will kill Village South and I don’t believe it will be coming back,” he said.

The OCP amendment bylaw failed 2-2 with Savage and Swain opposed. Coun. Karen Proctor did not participate in the meeting; she had advised council at a meeting earlier this month that she was removing herself from discussions on the bylaw due to conflict of interest because of the proximity of her property to the Village South lands.

READ ALSO: Plan for hundreds of homes in Lantzville village core getting another public hearing

READ ALSO: Lantzville council asks developer to ‘improve’ Village South plan

READ ALSO: Public expresses vehement opposition to Lantzville Village South project

READ ALSO: 700-unit development in Lantzville will proceed to public hearing

READ ALSO: Lantzville council looks over plans for shops and hundreds of homes in village’s downtown


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