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Additional 244 units proposed for Squamish's SEAandSKY development

Waterfront project looking to add new amenities, 144 market-for-sale units and 100 rental units, some of which will be below-market.
A sizable part of the northern piece of the property has been built out; however, the developer has revised its vision for the southern end. It hopes the District will approve this proposal.

One of Squamish's biggest developments is asking the District for permission to get a little bigger while providing more amenities.

The SEAandSKY waterfront development, on  53 acres just off Highway 99 before the entrance to downtown, has applied to rezone the land on the southern end of its property, where shovels have yet to hit the ground.

It seeks to modify the regulations of the existing CD-40 comprehensive development zone, which will necessitate a process of three readings and adoption before it passes.

This application also seeks to amend the land's sub-area plan.

The project remains a joint venture between BlueSky, a division of Bosa Properties, and Kingswood Properties.

In 2017, when the project was given third reading, the now-approved rezoning application allowed for the construction of between 900 to 1,100 residential units.

That proposal also put forth 55 units of affordable rental housing and 50 units of market rental housing.

To date, BlueSky says the project has surpassed that initially proposed number, as there are 195 rental units — 55 being below-market — that are built or in the pipeline for the northern chunk of the property.

A sizable part of the northern piece of this land has been built out; however, the developer has revised its vision for the southern end. It hopes the District will approve this proposal.

"We saw an opportunity to add more and varied housing typology to our site and kind of improve upon the approved 2017 master plan," said Lucas Berube, BlueSky's director of development for this project.

"We're proposing an additional 144 market [for-sale] units and an additional 100 rental units above what was originally approved."

Of those rental units, there will be 78 at market rental rates and 22 at below-market.

The proposal calls for a change in housing forms to make that happen.

"Under the previous zoning there, it was a mix of low-rise townhomes, and then four and six-storey condo buildings," said Berube.

"Our proposal here is for 10 buildings, kind of primarily in a six-storey typology with townhomes at grade."

As always, however, increased density has become a topic of intense debate in Squamish.

Berube acknowledged this reality.

"We're responding to the needs of a growing community," he said. "Squamish remains one of the fastest growing communities in B.C, and we're proposing 144 market units and 100 much-needed rental units to respond to that overall housing crisis, the overall rental crisis."

He said the proposal seeks to strike a balance.

"I think that concerns over additional density need to be balanced with concerns over affordability and over lack of rental units, both of which we feel this proposal is going to help provide and help mitigate," Berube said.

He added that there are also upsides in terms of the environment and community amenities.

"We're proposing in the site of [the] former Interfor sawmill, and with the proposed additional density comes significant proposed environmental benefits, including 2.1 hectares of public park, interconnected trails, habitat restoration," said Berube.

"In our opinion, the benefits far outweigh the additional density pitfalls.

There are other amenities proposed.

The application seeks changes that would allow for a public plaza, new commercial frontage along the south edge, a habitat riparian planting zone, a nature-inspired children's play area, a kayak launch and habitat enhancement at the base of the bluff.

Jason Wong, BlueSky's brand director for this project, said he expects the proposed amenities will be valuable assets to the community. Coupled with the pedestrian bridge that has already been approved, he said it would be a way to extend downtown Squamish.

"We think all of it, as a sum total, is going to be just an awesome amenity, both for the people who live there and for the people who live in the city, and, ultimately, connect as many parts of the city as possible, and just create a nice extension of that downtown," Wong said.

Council is expected to discuss the project several months from now.

***Updated on Feb. 23 to clarify the name of Bosa as Bosa Properties.

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