Council sends apartment plan back to drawing board

Density and parking issues among chief concerns of councillors

A developer’s plan to build a multi-unit apartment building has been temporarily parked by District of Sooke council.

After more than a one-hour debate, the development at 6523 and 6527 Sooke Rd. was sent back to municipal staff to further discuss the parking plan for the building with the developer.

Harbour View Centre applied for a development permit to construct a four-storey building with 38 residential units and one commercial unit. The two properties will be consolidated prior to development.

The developer also sought a development variance permit which would see parking stalls reduced from 1.5 per unit to one, set back from Lanark and Dover roads to 1.5 metres, from three, and decreased limits for commercial space.

The tenor of citizen comments prompted council to re-look at the plan in the hopes the developer could come up with more parking space to alleviate concerns from neighbourhood residents.

“I’m kind of sitting on the fence of this one because I want to see that property cleaned up,” said Mayor Maja Tait.

“I also don’t want to rush into something then it upsets the neighbourhood and causes other problems.”

Harbour View Centre spokesman Ian Laing said having 1.5 parking spots for the 38-unit apartment is unnecessary.

Laing, who has managed apartment complexes for more than 18 years, said most residents of apartments don’t have a vehicle.

“I really believe the 39 parking units (if you include the commercial parking space) is more than enough. I’ll be there will be a couple of vacant parking stalls. The odds of getting 39 tenants with 39 vehicles is slim to none.”

Each apartment will be 480 square feet with more bike parking provided. The apartment is also walking distance to town centre and close to a bus route.

Councillors did see a need for more affordable housing in Sooke. The apartments will be rented from $650 to $800 a month.

The concern from council though was the density and the lack of parking in the area.

“I’m, not sure 39 parking spaces is enough,” said Coun. Kevin Pearson, a sentiment echoed by others councillors.

Added Tait: “We need to find a balance of what fits into the existing neighbourhood.”

Municipal staff is expected to have a report ready on the plan later this month.

 

klaird@blackpress.ca