The latest plans for the building slated for the current Cumberland Hotel site include a pitched roof that extends beyond the four actual floors.
In the view of some, this is a bit too big and does not necessarily fit in with the surrounding downtown neighbourhood. The item was the subject of a public information meeting back in August.
“The public’s concern is the mass of the building and the height of the building,” senior planner Karin Albert told council.
Council took a look at the latest renderings for the mixed-used building at 2714 Dunsmuir Ave., which would have three commercial units on the main floor and 15 apartment units on the three storeys above.
The proponent needs a variance for a couple of features, specifically the roof height and parking requirements. Albert said council there had been some questions about whether the building actually had a fifth storey, but as she explained, the plan is to add a covered shelter with a pitched roof to hide infrastructure such as a mechanical room above the fourth floor.
“The roof puts the building above [maximum] height,” she said.
Some on council had reservations about the size and character of the building. One of the main concerns from the proposal has been maintaining some sense of heritage at the site when the Cumberland Hotel is replaced, especially with a new building that is larger than the surrounding structures. Albert said the proponent is planning to use materials that, while not natural, reflect the look of the traditional siding.
On the issue of parking, the proponent wanted variances to reduce the required number of 22 stalls by eight, as well as waive special parking requirements for RVs or tour buses, pregnant women or people with young children, electric vehicles and persons with a disability, along with two commercial loading stalls.
Staff recommended denying the requests to reduce the number by eight stalls or to waive the designated spaces for electric vehicles or for persons with a disability. However, they recommended variances to waive the RV/tour bus or pregnant women or people with young children. As Albert told council, the latter provision is usually set aside for large lots typical of shopping centres.
The project is supposed to use a Klaus multi-parking system for 14 vehicles. The unit stacks vehicles in stalls with an automated system that saves on space.
While members of council were impressed with some of the ideas, they still raised issues. Coun. Sean Sullivan said the proponent had met a lot of the requirements, though he had concerns about the “boxy” form and how this could fit into the historical character of the downtown. At the same time, he realized the site is going to look different than from what people know.
“Nothing’s going to look like the Cumberland Hotel,” he said.
Coun. Vickey Brown brought up the issues of the height as well as provisions for awnings and setbacks from the road.
“I’d like to see one less floor,” she said.
She was pleased they now plan to name the building the Cumberland. The staff report notes there is a commemoration plan for the old hotel as part of the plan for the new building.
Council approved a motion to have staff bring back a report on heritage alternation permits and a permit for the height variance.