Response was mixed during a two-day public open house in Parksville regarding a proposed waterfront development.
The six-hour open house sessions on Sept. 11-12 encouraged the public to submit their feedback on the rezoning application and proposed development at 113 and 161 Island Highway.
IAG Developments has big plans for its eight-acre parcel. The proposed project outlines the company’s plan to create community, commercial, office and residential spaces on Parksville’s waterfront.
There are seven buildings proposed as part of the plan, and three areas of public open space that would be free for anyone to access. The facilities offered would be a waterfront pub, hotel and event centre and a community fitness centre in addition to 6,349 square meters of commercial/office and 239 residential condominium units.
Sixty of the 299 residential units would be purpose-built rental offered at the market rate. Director of corporate development at IAG, Alex Watson, was on hand during the open house to speak with residents. The open house was packed with people learning about the project and offering their commentary.
He says the response from the public has been mixed – some concerns, but some excitement.
“There’s no hiding it. The issue that everybody seems to have is height,” said Watson.
In response to those concerns, he says that building up is the best way to maximize the amount of residential space while retaining ground-level public green space.
Watson says that incorporating public open space, community amenities and enhancing resident and tourist access to the waterfront are key priorities.
“What we’ve tried to do is incorporate as much public space into it. We don’t want to build an enclave. We want to build a space that’s publicly accessible. We think that it’s the right thing to do,” said Watson.
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Open house sessions in Parksville this week collected public feedback on the rezoning application and proposed development at 113 and 161 Island Highway… https://t.co/CSO1L1SCxu pic.twitter.com/zskLilDnsA
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) September 13, 2019
The plan includes two high-rise buildings that would be commercial, office and residential use. One is 16 floors (the tallest building in the proposal) and the other is 12.
The 16-storey building would have the bottom three floors used as commercial/office space, with the top 13 residential. The 12-storey building has two floors of commercial/office space, with the top 10 floors being residential.
Also proposed is an eight-storey building with six floors of market-rate rental units on top of a community fitness facility that would include a 25-metre swimming pool.
Other buildings are a seven-floor hotel and event centre, a two-floor waterfront pub/restaurant that would seat 445 people, and two more commercial/residential buildings, one with six floors and another with seven.
In terms of public open space, IAG is proposing a city plaza near the Island Highway that would act as an extension of downtown, a promenade that connects downtown and the beach boardwalk, and a beach plaza that would complement the existing boardwalk beach, and community park.
Watson says the development team has taken into consideration community reports, parks plans and documents from VIU. They’ve also spoken with local business people about their needs, as well as offering public open houses.
A big component of the plan is creating a pedestrian friendly route from downtown to the beach.
According to IAG’s projections, the development would create 2,000 direct jobs during construction, and upon completion would create 595 new full-time jobs.
Results from the last community open house were also posted.
A total of 35 per cent of respondents at the last session expressed a concern about the building height, while 58 per cent listed themselves as positive and enthusiastic and 12 per cent said they were against it.
Watson says the next steps would be amending the zoning bylaw for the parcel of land, and amending the official community plan to include the development.
After that, the group would apply for a development permit from the City of Parksville.
As of now, Watson says it’s too soon to be able to offer a price point on the residential units. He hopes that the project would be completed within the next 10 years.