Residential project in Courtenay receives third reading

After mixed views at a public hearing, Silver Sand Land Corp's proposed residential project near Costco jumped over one more hurdle.

After mixed views at a public hearing Monday, Silver Sand Land Corp’s proposed residential project near Costco jumped over one more hurdle.

The company’s application to amend the Official Community Plan and zoning bylaws to allow for a residential development at land between Salal Place and Courtenay Toyota was given third reading, with Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard opposed. Coun. Doug Hillian was absent.

Leonard noted ongoing noise complaints from area residents, due to nearby Costco’s operations. She also pointed out Costco’s letter to Courtenay requesting noise mitigation measures, like insulating building materials and a perimeter sound buffer, be implemented at the proposed residential development.

“What it looks like to me is that Costco is trying to make sure that nobody can complain, future residents, can complain about the noise that Costco makes,” she said. “It is such a frustration for me to know that there is sound problems, there is the enjoyment of life issues, and we are going to be putting more housing adjacent to that noise, and that we will be basically inviting more complaints.”

Courtenay’s senior planner Ian Buck said City staff considered the chunk of commercial land between Costco and Elderberry Crescent — which is directly behind Costco and west of the proposed residential development — when it recommended approval of the amendments to the OCP and zoning.

“At the time that commercial development goes in we can really address, for the back of those properties, what kind of sound attenuation would (need to) be in place,” he said, noting any new commercial development that comes forward would require a sound attenuation reports as part of the development permit process.

Mayor Larry Jangula also pointed out these prospective homeowners will buy a home knowing what’s next door, rather than buying a home in a residential area and later hearing land around them is up for rezoning.

Some speakers at the public hearing praised the project. Others expressed concerns around possible damage to fish-bearing streams, underground water sources, and the potential loss of green space in the Elderberry Crescent and Salal Place neighbourhood, as well as concerns about noise.

Elderberry Crescent resident Shelly Lesperance-Farndon handed Courtenay staff a stack of 18 signatures from area residents who want the existing green space kept intact.

Buck noted staff are aware of all the issues brought up, and those concerns can be addressed by staff later in the project. For example, he pointed out Home Depot put a deep-water injection system in to ensure groundwater is protected, and something similar could be implemented if need be. He also said efforts would be made to retain as much existing vegetation as possible.

Meanwhile, the zoning amendment would see the proposed residential area — which is currently zoned for commercial use — swap zoning with a chunk of Silver Sand Land Corp’s land near Ryan and Anderton Roads. This land is currently zoned for residential uses and would change over to commercial uses, essentially swapping zoning with the land slated for the residential development.

Leonard expressed concerns about a lack of amenity fees from Silver Sand Land Corp with a zoning swap.

CAO David Allen noted the City recently received a legal opinion about the issue, but staff hadn’t had a chance to discuss it before the council meeting.

Jangula suggested staff provide a report to council about the legal opinion before the amendments move to fourth reading.

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