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Cumberland approves variances for project at old hotel site

Council OK’s changes for height, lot coverage and some but not all parking requirements
Council considered a flat roof option but preferred the initial sloping roof proposed. Image, Village of Cumberland report

Cumberland’s council wants a proposed mixed-use building to include a sloped roof to better fit in with its downtown neighbours.

It’s not unanimous though where the roof should actually start for the project at 2714 Dunsmuir Ave.

Council has discussed the issue last month and asked staff to come back with more information.

During a discussion at the Dec. 13 meeting concerning variance requests for the four-storey apartment at the site where the Cumberland Hotel now stands, most on council preferred the idea of granting a variance to allow for a slightly higher than allowed building if the top, which covers building infrastructure such as a mechanical room, includes a sloped roof as opposed to a flat one. The developer included drawings of both in the agenda package. The request is for a height allowance, increasing the maximum height from 15 metres to 17 metres to allow for the sloped roof.

Coun. Vickey Brown agreed with the slope but was opposed to the idea of a variance, saying the developer could push the roof-line back and stay within the height allowance.

RELATED STORY: Building height leaves questions for Cumberland Hotel site

The other variances up for discussion were for the number of parking spaces and lot coverage.

As far as the lot coverage, the request was for three per cent more than the 75 per cent maximum. While the building itself covers 68 per cent, the parking garage planned, which includes a rotating Klaus multi-parking system, brings the coverage up to 77.5 per cent.

“It’s actually needing variance because it is oversize,” Brown said.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule said she understood the differing views on the project in light of questions around size of new buildings.

“This is one of the bigger, more contentious decisions,” she said. “People are really concerned about the future of Cumberland.”

Council also had to consider a heritage alteration permit request. During discussion, which focused on proposed awnings, council members rejected the idea. Coun. Sean Sullivan said when he had asked about awnings before, he was alluding to some kind of coverings for the facade on higher floors, not at ground level as what was being proposed in the latest drawings.

One detail that came up was the potential name, with the proponent’s latest being the Cumberland, though Sullivan said he did not like it as the new building would never be able to replace the Cumberland Hotel.

“There’s a million different names we could choose,” he said.

The plans include some kind of commemoration on site for the historic downtown building.

Prior to the latest meeting, the application had been sent to committees for heritage and accessibility and inclusion, as well as the Advisory Planning Commission.

As far as a decision, staff’s recommendation was to approve a heritage alteration permit as well as the development variance permit to waive special parking spaces for recreational vehicles and tour buses, or for pregnant women or people with young children, waive the requirement for two commercial loading spaces, allow the lot coverage to go up to 78 per cent and the maximum height to be 17 metres for the sloped roof. As well, staff suggested council deny the proponent’s request to reduce the regular parking requirements by eight stalls, which can be covered through cash in lieu, as well as the special parking designations for electric vehicles or people with a disability.

In the end, council approved a motion following the recommendations, with only Brown voting in opposition.

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