Comox council approves third reading of Aspen-Murrelet project

Rezoning, development permit bylaws still need to be adopted at future meeting

Council for the Town of Comox is moving ahead on the next step for a controversial residential complex planned for 695 Aspen Rd.

At Wednesday’s regular meeting, all members of council supported motions to move the rezoning application and development permit applications to third reading. Council will still have to adopt the bylaws at an upcoming meeting.

After a large turnout at the public hearing for the proposal earlier this month, council moved the meeting from regular chambers to the adjacent d’Esterre Seniors Centre, to allow for up to 50 people while still being in adherence to current social distancing provisions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Prior to the meeting, some were upset the meeting was even going ahead. Fewer than 10 members of the public attended.

When the item came up for discussion, Coun. Stephanie McGowan was the first to speak in favour of the bylaws, saying the issue weighed heavily on her in recent weeks, but that the proposal would help create necessary housing for the community on Aspen Road near Murrelet Drive.

She touched on concerns about traffic, saying that the area is well-served by transit and modes of active transportation. She also referred to a recent housing needs assessment that showed renters in the community are seven times more likely to experience core housing issues, while businesses have also expressed a need for more housing and child care. The survey also showed that a quarter of respondents have considered moving away because of the housing shortage.

“Density is one of the only tools that we as a community have to combat this issue,” she said.

Other members of council acknowledged concerns cited by residents opposed, such as building height, the number of units, a potential increase in traffic or that the project would not fit in with the surrounding neighbour. All councillors underscored the need for housing options in the community and were confident the concerns would be addressed.

Coun. Maureen Swift said she was impressed during the public hearing at how civil the comments from people on both sides were. However, she supports the plan and addressed some questions such as traffic and parking, saying the roads can handle more traffic and there is more than required parking for this proposal, adding that some will be underground. She added that the complex is near services such as a grocery store and pharmacy, meaning people do not necessarily have to drive to shop. As well, she said the mixed-use nature will fit in with the surrounding area.

“Already, there is a mixed use in this neighbourhood, with patio homes, single-family homes, commercial and a three-storey condo development across the street,” she said.

Echoing the need for more housing, Coun. Nicole Minions, who, along with Coun. Alex Bissinger, was attending via Internet feed, said, “I ran on a platform of affordable housing.”

Bissinger expanded on the need for more places to live in light of the influx of new residents in the Comox Valley and supported the choice of location.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the Town of Comox and for the Comox Valley to increase our housing supply,” she said. “There’s people moving to the Valley left, right and centre, and I think we need to accommodate that.”

Highstreet Ventures, based out of Kelowna, is proposing three four-storey residential apartment buildings and one four-storey mixed-use residential/commercial building. The project includes 73 one-bedroom, one-bath units, 159 two-bedroom, two-bath units totaling 208 market rentals and 24 for-sale condos. The plan is for ground-floor commercial space of roughly 1,000 square feet. The developer is also offering $142,000 cash-in-lieu for Comox’s affordable housing reserve fund, six units in the condo building at below market rental cost and a portion of the ground-floor commercial space for a daycare.

RELATED STORY: Developer shocked at pushback during Comox public hearing

The proposal was the subject of a March 5 public hearing at the Comox Community Centre, which was attended by about 150 people expressing both support as well as opposition.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Despite social distancing, Comox Valley Hospice Society ensures services for those in need

Services have been modified, but staff and volunteers are still actively providing compassion.

Consultation for Comox Valley Sewer Service postponed to fall

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission has approved plans to reschedule public engagement… Continue reading

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society inundated with new arrivals at this time of the year

Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press In spring the Mountainaire Avian… Continue reading

442 squadron to perform fly-by over Comox Valley hospital to salute COVID-19 workers

Cormorant helicopter will fly over the hospital at 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read