A vocal group of Comox residents repeatedly expressed their opinions Wednesday evening during a development information meeting about the proposed Comox Bay Marina Resort.
Primary concerns included sight views, traffic, noise and a waterfront walkway.
Richard Iredale, partner in Iredale Group Architecture, the Vancouver/Victoria-based company behind the resort, presented to a packed standing-room-only crowd of around 150 people in the lower level of the Black Fin Pub.
He explained developers have a development permit for one building on the former Edgewater Pub site — a hotel/restaurant/spa/shopping mix with apartments on the top three storeys, but not yet one for a proposed four-storey second building uphill exclusively with apartments, which would have to meet current Official Community Plan requirements.
Iredale added the second building, if approved, would not be built for another 10 to 15 years.
The buildings would be of timber construction, with heavy timber structure inside, and a metal roof.
In total, Iredale said in the first building there would be 30 hotel rooms and 40 apartment units with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units; the second building would have 40 apartments.
There would be an allotted 105 parking spots for the hotel building, and 90 for the second, with a planned underground parking lot for the hotel building.
In addition to expressing their concerns about having the hotel building built on fill, citizens questioned if parking would accommodate the marina, and if the increase in residents would increase vehicle traffic in the town.
Iredale explained they will do a traffic study to look into the issue.
“(The development) will put more people in the centre of town, and they can walk and bike without needing to get into a car,” he added.
Residents also questioned the height of the building and the impact on the overall waterfront.
Iredale said the hotel building was originally planned to be four storeys, but after hearing concerns by neighbours, they reduced the building to three.
Questions were presented about the overall benefit to the community, and one resident noted some citizens are feeling “gun shy” about new developments in the town not being completed as originally presented in plans.
One resident supported the hotel/apartment plans, and added the waterfront project would add vibrancy, variety and employment to the town.
“Projects need to be respectful of neighbours and it needs to go both ways,” he said. “We have to evolve — and we have to evolve carefully. We need to give (the developer) and the Town a chance.”
After the meeting, Iredale said he understands the concerns presented and carefully will consider and incorporate the feedback.
“When people haven’t yet seen it and haven’t seen the overall site plan and know how it’s going to work vis-a-vis their lives, I can see why people are nervous and so the goal of this is to communicate and tell people what they think so far and what they want us to do,” he told media.
“People are really concerned about view; maintaining the view of the mountains and maintaining the view from the park and Beaufort (Avenue). The view is critical.”
Iredale noted the next step is to absorb the comments, look at gathering more, and suggested they could offer another meeting or one in connection with the Town’s planning department after receiving their technical feedback.
He said despite the comments and questions to the proposal, he encourages additional feedback.
“When you get this level of public interest, that means people care — and love — their community and that means they will actually be the people who live here and look after it.”
The development has not yet been presented to Comox council for a rezoning application.