The site of the King George Hotel in Cumberland. Record file photo

The site of the King George Hotel in Cumberland. Record file photo

Cumberland adding King George Hotel to heritage registry

Village looking to promote heritage protection, affordable housing downtown

Cumberland is adding the King George Hotel to its community heritage registry.

Council approved a recommendation to add the old hotel, now documented with a statement of significance, to the registry. It was part of a staff report on heritage protection tools for local governments, which also included options to consider such as density bonuses or community amenity contributions to downtown commercial mixed-used zone to promote heritage conservation and affordable housing.

At the June 14 meeting, senior planner Karin Albert told council the King George was one of a few sites the village is considering.

“This is one of hopefully three that we’re going to see this year,” she said.

Earlier in the year, Vancouver Island University practicum students looked at these tools and produced reports with recommendations to council.

RELATED STORY: VIU students research Cumberland’s past, future

Student Neethu Syam used the hotel as her subject of research, while student Jacob Burnley looked at density of homes and affordable housing in the downtown core.

“He also looked at heritage conservation,” Albert said at the recent meeting.

There were some obstacles for small communities like Cumberland, as Burnley had pointed out to council in the spring. Albert said the village has items like a review of the VCMU-1 zone planned for the medium term and some other items planned for the longer term.

“It’s always good to have a look and see what else we can do,” she said.

Some on council had concerns about the VCMU-1 zone and whether the measures would work for communities like Cumberland, though Coun. Vickey Brown added she likes to see incentives used to encourage these measures.

“The carrot always works better than the stick,” she said.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule said she was surprised to see there were more things the village can do than she thought, referring to ideas such as preserving building facades while adding new construction behind.

“I think we can really stretch our minds,” she said.

Mayor Leslie Baird, though, suggested the village needs to finish its traffic and parking study before considering measures such as density bonuses.

Council passed a motion to add the King George Hotel to the Cumberland Community Heritage Register and to have staff come up with options for a density bonus or community amenity contribution provision in the VCMU-1 Village Core Commercial Mixed-Use Zone to promote heritage conservation and affordable housing. As well, the motion includes wording to the effect that the timing and priority of this work be reviewed at the next council strategic planning session.

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