When Squamish's mayor called upon the public to submit their concerns or compliments about a potential new development in the Loggers East neighbourhood, there were virtual crickets.
On June 21, council opened municipal chambers and its phone lines to hear residents' feedback regarding a proposed 25-unit townhouse development on 1039 Finch Drive.
Following the hearing, council later voted unanimously in favour of granting third reading to the rezoning application, which would convert rural residential RL-1 land to a comprehensive development zone CD-102.
It is set to be adopted in the near future.
This development is expected to have a couple of two-bedroom units and 23 three-bedroom units.
Two units are to be secured as affordable rental housing, and two others will be market rentals.
Prior to council's granting of third reading, the only people who spoke at the hearing were representatives of Squamish EcoVille Ltd., which is the developer behind the project.
Yoga Yogendran, the CEO of the company, spoke about some of the environmental conditions being attached to the development.
Officials require the project to be constructed to a net-zero energy operational use, and that no natural gas will be provided to any of the units in the development.
"We are not depending on BC Hydro," said Yogendran. "Electricity we are using is generated on-site, stored on-site and used as needed. We are connected to BC Hydro, and we will use BC Hydro when it makes sense. But we are generating our own energy."
He said that this was technology that his company has been developing for the last decade.
"I think it's going to be very unique," said Yogendran. "And we are very excited."
While there was complete silence on the part of the public during the meeting, there was one piece of late written correspondence attached to the agenda that evening.
One resident, Rachel Shephard, wrote in support of attaching requirements to the rezoning.
This included, among other things, a riparian protection covenant for the environmentally sensitive area on site.
"How can we ensure that the area is protected in perpetuity (covenant cannot be changed or removed)?" wrote Shepard. "What measures will be in place to ensure that the area is actually protected and not used as a play area by residents (building pump tracks, trails, etc)."
She also said it would be best to create a covenant that would notify future owners of the publicly accessible basketball court proposed in the public plaza area.
Shepard also asked that future strata be barred from removing or substantially restricting access to the basketball court.
She also advocated for conservation principles to be embedded in the design.
"It would be good to start [to] includ[e] 'bird safe' building design into requirements for future developments, especially near riparian areas," Shepard said.
Elected officials voiced their support for the development.
"The plan to power the project is very forward thinking and I'm looking forward to seeing many more project owners and developers in the future presenting this type of energy use strategy in their projects," said Coun. John French.
Mayor Karen Elliott also voiced her appreciation for this development making townhouses available in both market rental and affordable rental.
Coun. Chris Pettingill said he was particularly satisfied with the project's energy use.
"I think in the crisis we're in, the thing I'm most focused on is the no-gas covenants to make sure we are not building in fossil fuel infrastructure," said Pettingill. "But I am really excited that this developer is going above and beyond and thinking about future energy costs and developing those systems."
Coun. Jenna Stoner also had positive words for the affordable and market rental units.
"An additional two units as market rental…goes above and beyond our current policy," she said. "54% of the lot is going to be open space and/or protected by an environmental covenant for the riparian habitat."
The plan does a good job of living up to the expectations set out by the Loggers East neighbourhood plan, Coun. Armand Hurford said.