Comox council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to updated plans for a five-storey addition to The Berwick on Comox Avenue, after developers returned to present their future plans for the retirement facility.
In September, council heard from Chris Denford, president and CEO of Berwick Retirement Communities, who presented council with a proposed six-storey addition which would hold 34 additional suites, a larger dining room bistro, theatre, games room and staff lounge.
The addition – located at 1666 Comox Ave. – would see one out of three Garry oak trees located on the property be cut down.
According to an arborist report produced in September, the tree subject to removal is between 50 – 60 years old, with approximately 350 years remaining in its lifespan, and has a monetary value of $37,600.
William Bomhoff of Berwick told council they examined three proposed options presented by Comox citizens which would not involve cutting down the Garry oak tree, but added “it just doesn’t work.”
“Working with the architect, we’ve lowered the building but we can still achieve 34 suites and an amenity space.”
Denford called the proposed plan “option number four,” which eliminates the sixth floor and sees the total height matching the existing rooftop lounge.
The proposal also includes an ambulance garage, lounge and shower area for paramedics.
He added the previous scheme did not include an ambulance garage.
Linda Rutherford, community relations manager for Berwick Comox Valley, explained afterwards to council the facility significantly boosts the economic impact to the town’s downtown area, along with supporting a variety of groups and service clubs in the Comox Valley.
Representatives of Comox by the Sea Business in Action also told council they supported the proposed expansion.
Council unanimously approved first and second reading of the rezoning and development permit application, and proposed an estimated date of late January as a timeframe for a public hearing.