A 45-room hotel in Nanaimo’s downtown is closer to construction after city council approved development permit variances.
Developers of the project at 440 Selby Street were granted six variances, most significantly a reduction in required parking spaces from 45 to 35. A previous development permit had been approved in 2015 and expired, which is why the project came back to the council table Monday.
- RELATED: Nanaimo developer plans boutique hotel
“These kind of developments help our downtown. They improve our downtown,” said Coun. Diane Brennan. “If people are coming to our downtown, there’ll be more businesses thriving on the main street and we need to encourage this.”
Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, advised council that the project plans call for only 25 parking spaces on the site. The location falls within an area of the city where developers are permitted payment in lieu of providing parking spaces, so the variance means a payment of $30,000 in lieu of 10 stalls, rather than $60,000 in lieu of 20 stalls.
Coun. Jerry Hong suggested the developer should be on the hook for all 45 stalls. Brennan said asking for more than the staff recommendation of 35 stalls felt like gouging, and said fewer parking spaces seems to be in line with the city’s stated transportation and climate goals.
“Why wouldn’t a developer expect that that’s what he or she is going to encounter when they come to Nanaimo to do business?” she asked.
Coun. Jim Kipp said his opposition to the variance wasn’t about gouging.
“This is making a guy live to a payment that is in our bylaw that says if you can’t provide the [parking spaces] on your site, you pay a fee…” he said. “We’re just making them live to the rule that’s written.”
Councillors Sheryl Armstrong and Gord Fuller also opposed the variance due to parking concerns, and Coun. Bill Bestwick, though he voted in favour of the variance, said he’s “frustrated with the parking and parking is a common thread of frustration that I receive.”
Coun. Bill Yoachim also voted in favour.
“I don’t think [parking] should be a deal-breaker, but be creative…” he said. “I think if there’s a will, there’s a way. [A hotel] will be be a great change for the area and the street.”
The motion passed with councillors Armstrong, Fuller, Kipp and Hong opposed.