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A presentable Oceanfront

Presentation centre-restaurant building receives approval from District council
Rendering of the Oceanfront Squamish presentation centre.

A significant foothold will soon be established in one of Squamish’s biggest upcoming developments.

On June 15, the council voted unanimously in favour of granting a development permit with variances to Oceanfront Squamish for an upcoming presentation centre.

“This development permit is an important move forward for a landmark Squamish project,” said Coun. John French.

“The idea of combining a presentation centre with a food and beverage operation at this iconic location, creating jobs, creating a new draw to our Oceanfront and creating awareness of the business and housing opportunities that are coming to the Nexen lands — I support the motion.”

The centre will provide an area to showcase the residential units that will be sold at the development, which is being spearheaded by Matthews West.

However, that will not be the sole use of the building.

A restaurant with 130 indoor seats and 86 outdoor seats will also be a part of the facility. There will also be outdoor seating at ground level, protected by a glass barrier.

There’s also an opportunity for an accessory brewery to be constructed in the building.

Two variances were requested.

The first would reduce the size of the side setback to four metres, down from five.

The second would increase the allowed height of the building to 13.1 metres, up from 10 metres. The building will still be two storeys, as the extra space would accommodate a mezzanine.

To compensate for the variances, Matthews West is promising to build covered shelters in the upcoming Oceanfront park, an amenity that was not previously secured in the phased development agreement.

Environmentally-friendly features were also proposed.

This included a solar array for the south-facing roof slope, as well a wind turbine to help with renewable energy on cloudier days.

Mass timber, which was described as a more environmentally-friendly material, will also be used on the building.

Coun. Jenna Stoner said that the variances are on the right track.

“I think that they are both in line with the ongoing discussions that we are having around the ongoing evolution of this site,” she said.

Coun. Doug Race said he found the building pleasing to look at.

“This is actually an attractive-looking building to me with natural features and also some innovative ideas,” said Race.

“I wouldn’t have thought of putting solar panels and a wind vane on it, but that’s an interesting feature….I’m looking forward to sitting there and sipping something looking at the park that’s also going to be built.”

Coun. Chris Pettingill noted that it was important to spread the message that this development is trying to shift away from cars.

One comment from the public regarding the development was submitted before the meeting, saying the development would not have sufficient parking for windsports users and regular beach visitors.

However, a municipal staff report says the developer is offering up 59 stalls, while the requirement for the site is 54.

The report said a comparable development downtown would require 32 stalls.

“We should take ownership to some degree in making sure the respective residents are aware of our shift [away from] vehicles,” said Pettingill. “I think we’re creating a headache, possibly, for a future council if we’re not making sure people are aware that’s the direction. I think a lot of people will be enthusiastic about that.”

Coun. Eric Andersen gave the aesthetics of the building a positive review.

“This is a strong effort, I believe, toward a new Squamish vernacular,” he said, referring to a term that describes what a typical Squamish design should look like.

“The cedar-shake solution for the cladding is a strong element of this proposal and should be welcomed.”