City council approved an over-height proposal for 197 apartments in downtown Nanaimo and the developer can now work toward a building permit.
Council, by an 8-1 vote Monday, Aug. 30, issued a development permit to Omicron Architecture Engineering Construction Ltd., on behalf of Telus Communications, for a mixed-use development at 400 Fitzwilliam St.
“We’re very excited to begin this development process with the city and look forward to the next steps,” said Jordan Royer, development manager with Omicron.
Lainya Rowett, the city’s manager of current planning, said in her report to council that the property is in “a prominent location” in the Old City Quarter, also bordering Wallace and Wentworth streets.
The ‘Telus Living’ complex will include a seven-storey building and a six-storey building with a total of 10 three-bedroom apartments, 45 two-bedroom apartments, 95 one-bedroom apartments and 47 studio suites. There will be one commercial retail unit facing Wallace Street and shared underground parking. Parking requirements are fulfilled with 123 spaces on site.
“With great enthusiasm I’ll be supporting this project,” said Coun. Tyler Brown. “I’m very glad to see it come forward.”
The applicant asked for height variances for both buildings – from 14 metres to 19m for one and from 14m to 17m for the other.
“The applicant and staff discussed a few configurations. In this case, what was deemed to be the best arrangement on the site was a more compact building form…” said Rowett. “Having the height allowed them to go higher for portions of the building and then step down to in others to some of the lower building heights in the surrounding area.”
Dale Lindsay, the city’s general manager of development services, said staff felt the building heights were “in keeping with that intent” for mid-rise development in the area.
“The height variances are really limited to areas that benefit from either punctuating the site and making a significant entrance to the property, or reflecting the significance of the property – it’s a corner site and a gateway to the area,” Lindsay said.
Coun. Ben Geselbracht voted against the development permit because he felt the rationale for the height variance wasn’t clear enough, but his vote was the only opposition.
“The general proposition that we face is we either go up or we go out and I think it’s the general view of this council and most urban planners and other folks that you really want to be going up, not out…” said Mayor Leonard Krog. “It’s easier to service, easier to provide access, amenities can be closer, etc.”