Developer frustrated with City double-talk

"City cannot encourage downtown redevelopment on the one hand while discouraging redevelopment on the other..."

Dear Mayor Jangula,

In regards to the “Tiger Lily” proposed mixed­ use residential and commercial development on the Central Builders’ lands, a recent local article states the development is in keeping with the City’s goal of revitalization and densification of the downtown core, supporting existing retail while providing new retail opportunities. The proposed development is also said to enhance the riverfront with proposed improvements of existing parks and green spaces, as well the creation of new trails and walkways accessible to seniors and people with mobility issues.

I have been in dialogue with staff and council regarding a proposed redevelopment for my properties at 11th St. and Beckensell immediately adjacent to the Central Builders’ lands. Redevelopment of these lands will create the “Riverway Square Senior’s Housing Complex” (“Riverway Square”) which will provide similar benefits and qualities as the Tiger Lily project, recognizing the City’s desire for increased pedestrian infrastructure downtown and connectivity to the green spaces along the Courtenay River.

Both Tiger Lily and Riverway Square are in keeping with the City’s Official Community Plan for development within the Downtown Node.

At council’s request, I have for some time now been working with staff to address consolidation of lands at 11th Street and to address the conflicting issue of an 11th Street alignment for a future proposed third river crossing. Throughout this process, I have provided Council and staff with extensive information on the design and benefits of Riverway Square as well as information of the negative impact a bridge would have at this location. The impact would have far-reaching implications on any revitalization proposal including both Riverway Square and Tiger Lily.

Riverway Square has now stalled due to the lack of action by council in addressing the third bridge location. Council’s position is that the City has no resources to construct a third crossing and therefore a decision on where the crossing should be is unnecessary and unwarranted.

This position must be challenged.  A decision by council is relevant, warranted, and in the best interest of the community regardless of whether funding is available. The City cannot encourage downtown redevelopment on the one hand while discouraging redevelopment on the other leaving this issue unresolved. More traffic studies are not needed. The decision to eliminate the 11th Street crossing is needed.

Certainty is necessary for both developers and the community. Any additional seniors’ complex (or complexes) located in this downtown core will be of great interest to seniors and their families, not only in the Comox Valley but throughout the Island and the Province. Any development brought to this area will complement, support and be supported by the Tiger Lily development and other developments that may arise.

Support for downtown redevelopment needs a strong advocate. This advocate must press to deal with this lingering and disruptive issue and recognize the negative impacts this option will have.

I ask you, Mr. Mayor, to be that strong advocate. Bring this issue to Council and resolve to eliminate the 11th Street option. Let’s have City Council “walk the walk” in supporting the vision for downtown in the Official Community Plan rather than simply “talking the talk”. Support downtown redevelopment and let us all look forward to the improvements this community supports and needs.

I ask you to move quickly and decisively. Yours truly,

Michael Laver

Laver’s Holdings Ltd.

 

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