Comox OCP critics focus on two main issues

Two issues — the reduction of lot size in Point Holmes and a change to permit multi-storey apartments at 1582 Balmoral Ave. — were at the forefront for many residents of Comox who voiced their concerns Tuesday at a second public hearing of the Official Community Plan.
About 50 people filled the d'Esterre Seniors Centre as councillors took notes during the second meeting, which occurred because a handful of revisions were approved during the June 17 council meeting to bylaw 1684 and 1685.

Two issues — the reduction of lot size in Point Holmes and a change to permit multi-storey apartments at 1582 Balmoral Ave. — were at the forefront for many residents of Comox who voiced their concerns Tuesday at a second public hearing of the Official Community Plan.

About 50 people filled the d’Esterre Seniors Centre as councillors took notes during the second meeting, which occurred because a handful of revisions were approved during the June 17 council meeting to bylaw 1684 and 1685.

Point Homes resident Marie Gordon voiced her support of the proposed reduction in parcel size of 0.4 hectares and the creation of a development cost charges (DCC) bylaw to improve the area for cyclists and pedestrians who use Lazo Road.

“It’s only a matter of time with the increase of traffic until an accident will occur,” she said.

Lazo resident Judy Morrison noted the area is her “little piece of paradise” and she is concerned with the sand dunes disintegrating over the years. She encouraged council to expand a hardened trail throughout the area, along with preserving the unique ecological area while reducing the speed limit along Lazo Road.

Barbara Price, president of the Comox Town Residents’ Association, expressed her concern for the proposed change in size.

She said prior to the area being incorporated within the town’s boundary, a Community Vision report was presented to council which stated that the already established usage and character of the area be maintained and that the natural surroundings be protected as much as possible — a subdivision minimum lot size of 0.8 hectares, also recommended by Graham Farstad, OCP consultant at the April 13 committee of the whole meeting.

“Point Holmes is a unique area of sand dunes and Garry oak ecosystems … if they are to continue to exist for future generations, we are obliged to ensure they are cared for and that there is continuity between their various areas wherever possible,” she added.

Comox residents Wendy Prothero and Bill Halliday agreed with Price, while Len Everitt disagreed, noting the proposed OCP is more than adequate to protect the Point Holmes area.

“0.4 hectares meets the needs of taxpayers … it’s not opposed by the majority of residents. I urge council to adopt 0.4 hectares,” he said.

Other residents agreed, adding the implementation of DCCs would allow for much needed safety improvements.

“This is a win-win situation for the neighbourhood and community,” said one resident.

Other residents urged council about their concerns for a possible apartment building that may be permitted to be built by the d’Esterre Seniors’ Society.

“I fully support the OCP but I have a fear about how it will be implemented,” said Pritchard Road resident Graham Argyle. “I’m not against reasonable urban change but the d’Esterre Society property and the prevailing rezoning sets the scene for the future and ignores the physical and visual impact on further single-family homes.”

Argyle suggested limiting any development of the property situated at 1582 Balmoral Ave. to townhouses.

Another neighbour noted she is not against densifying downtown or creating affordable housing for seniors, but objects to the proposed multi-storey building, as current land designation allows for ground-orientated infill.

“It should be treated with the same designation as the rest of the neighbourhood,” she added.

Council will now consider the input from residents, and consider any further changes prior to third reading of the OCP. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for July 20 at 5:30 p.m.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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