A drawing shows the current approved design on the left and the proposed revisions. Image, Studio 531 Architects Inc.

A drawing shows the current approved design on the left and the proposed revisions. Image, Studio 531 Architects Inc.

Heritage committee reviews Cumberland Hotel site plan changes

“They also redesigned the building to add a few more units to make it more viable.”

Whatever replaces the old Cumberland Hotel will look different than the old landmark.

Now, it turns out, the new building will look a bit different than what council had thought, at least according to the existing heritage alteration permit.

In the last half of 2021, council had been given a look at the developers plans to replace the old hotel with a four-storey mixed use buildings, which includes apartments.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland Hotel could be replaced by new mixed-used building

In the time since, a number of issues have arisen, such as the setback allowance, particularly for BC Hydro powerlines and their distance from the building. The zoning maximum is one metre, but the developer needs three metres.

“They need a little bit more room, so they wish to set the building back further,” senior planner Karin Albert told council at their meeting on Aug. 8.

This far from the only change from the previous plans, as there are a couple of more units per floor being proposed. In all, this means 23 units instead of 15.

“They also redesigned the building to add a few more units to make it more viable,” she said.

A new architectural firm is involved to help meet the requirements of the project and propose changes such as different cladding on the exterior, landscaping changes and the addition of windows on the side of the building.

“It actually provides a friendlier face to the lane,” Albert said.

One big change is the proposed parking space. The plan is now calling for a 22-stall underground lot, instead of the 14-stall semi-automatic multi-parking system.

A previous design for the building also had a contentious sloped rooftop for a mechanical building. Council members expressed concern about the overall mass of the building.

“That’s been eliminated. There’s a little bit less up top,” Albert said.

The window material being proposed is black vinyl instead of aluminum, which is not in guidelines but permitted at the higher floors where it is less visible.

During discussion, council brought up numerous questions about the new plans.

“I have some serious concerns about the parking garage,” said Coun. Jesse Ketler.

She wondered what happened with the proposed car elevator for parking and also suggested they could use a geotechnical report to take into account factors such as the bedrock.

Coun. Vickey Brown had a different take, saying she liked the underground parking. She had questions about the setback changes though. She also wondered if they should not send it back to the Advisory Planning Commission because of the significance of the proposed changes.

Albert did not recommend referral to the APC, adding that they could deal with the setback through a variance. She also said the developer is allowed to add the extra units and that the overhang of the building is designed to line up with those of adjacent buildings.

Then there is the matter of what the new building will be called, as the developers were to take into account suggestions for a different name.

“It’s still saying ‘the eddie,’” said Mayor Leslie Baird. “I thought they were going to change the name.”

Albert responded by saying the matter will come up before the heritage committee. There is also a commemoration plan to honour the site’s history.

“One of the discussions was the naming,” she said. “We haven’t seen the final plan yet … We can get some more clarity.”

Staff’s recommendation is to refer the latest plans for the heritage committee. Council supported a motion to refer but also wants to get more geotechnical information regarding the new proposed parking spaces.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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