A new LiveShare co-living housing project in the Village of Pemberton represents an “exciting” prospect for staff and council, but proposed parking variances remain a sticking point.
The unique 64-unit project was back before staff and council at Pemberton’s June 21 Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting.
“We’re really excited about it because this is a new style of living, which is about putting people together,” said VOP consulting planner Cameron Chalmers at the meeting.
“So getting your own private space, but creating a community where the people that live here … create new connections.”
When the proposal was last brought before the COW at the Aug. 31, 2021 meeting, the main hold up for local officials was a requested parking variance which would see the number of parking stalls drop from the one-per-unit norm, as per the zoning bylaw, down to just 25 parking stalls in total.
“We know that council had some significant concerns about the viability of parking in that area. We had internal discussions which ultimately resulted in the applicant undertaking a fairly comprehensive review of parking in that area and options and strategies for addressing parking,” said Chalmers, about bringing on Bunt and Associates Transportation Planners and Engineers to do a comprehensive parking assessment for the proposed location at 7340 Crabapple Court.
“So the idea today is to outline and discuss some of those alternatives, to look at the range of options that may exist to ease the parking burden in this project, to look at some of the rationale and justification that went into the report, and ultimately, we’re requesting that the Committee of the Whole provide clear direction around moving towards implementation of some of those recommendations as a prerequisite to consideration of the final development permit.”
According to Chalmers, the uniqueness of the project—which proposes micro-suites with communal kitchen, dining, lounge and laundry facilities as well as car-share and shuttle services—may be more interesting to people looking for more affordable options, and because of that, the parking demand could be lower than the one-stall-per-unit bylaw.
The Bunt report found that similar projects have a parking stall demand of just 0.47 stalls per unit, which would equate to 30 stalls for the 64-unit building.
The Bunt report also listed surrounding streets as potential parking within a five-minute walk of the building, which would bring the total potential parking spaces up to 92. However, as pointed out by Councillor Ted Craddock, many of the streets listed in the proposal will not be available for on-street parking for the project, “and really, if anything, this report from Bunt just reaffirms my approach that there is not enough parking for that particular project,” he said.
While the updated proposal now includes 41 parking stalls, including 14 for the Gateway building as part of a previous covenant that may be shared among the residents for overnight parking, VOP councillors are still concerned the variance in parking will cause too much congestion on the surrounding streets.
“There’s a couple unfortunate things in terms of time and we don’t have the regional transit system in place that we’d like to. If that was fully installed right now, I would be more in agreement that many of the residents won’t be car dependent. And if it wasn’t right in that neighborhood that’s already suffering some parking pressures, I would also feel a little bit more relaxed about that,” said Mayor Mike Richman.
“I do think this will put a little bit of pressure on the neighborhood, but I do believe you’ve done a great job to bring forward some options and to look at how we can mitigate this. I think a little more work needs to be done on that to maybe reduce that variance request, provide a little bit more parking or more options, but I feel you’re headed in the right direction.”
In the end, the committee moved to let staff, once again, look for solutions to the parking issues to be included in a to-be-determined parking variance.