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New 96-unit residential-commercial Oceanfront Squamish development approved

Council votes 6-1 in favour of granting Matthews West a development permit.
July 2022oceanfront Squamish
The residential building slated for Oceanfront Squamish.

A new commercial-residential building is set to be built on the oceanfront lands following its recent approval from District of Squamish council.

On July 19, council voted 6-1 in favour of granting a development variance permit to Matthews West Developments to construct facilities on a property by Galbraith Road.

The project, dubbed Residential One, proposes one four-storey mixed-use building and one five-story residential building. 

A covered breezeway proposed for the site's south side would provide a path for pedestrians between the two buildings.

There would be 96 residential units. Of those, 84 will be condos sized between studio to three-bedroom, and 12 of them will be townhomes. As for parking, there will be 167 stalls provided.

All residential space will be 100% electric-powered.

Coun. Chris Pettingill expressed disappointment that this did not apply to non-residential parts of the development. It would turn out to be a dealbreaker for him. 

"I also find myself a bit frustrated tonight, where there has been a lot of council attention, and, admittedly, a lot from me on the no-gas covenant and the lack of clarity about what we're actually talking about here. The resolution is not matching up to the fact that it only actually applies to a part of it," said Pettingill.

"We have two very large buildings, and, apparently, details and commitments that only apply to one not just because of no gas, but a number of things. And so understanding what actually the commitments are is a bit challenging here."

Mass timber construction was also touted as an environmentally-friendly feature of the project.

Matthews West was applying for a variance that would allow them to build a five-story building, up from four. 

Zoning regulations in that area allow for four storeys or 18 metres — whichever is higher. The variance is asking for five storeys at 18 metres of height.

To sweeten the deal, the developer is also throwing in a contribution of $250,000 for a new playground in Oceanfront Park.

Mayor Karen Elliott said she was disappointed that there were only six three-bedroom units, which comprise 7% of the development.

"This is a second [development permit] tonight that's not hitting the OCP threshold for 20% of the units being three-bedroom and again I'm wondering why we're not pushing proponents to reach that OCP goal," said Elliott. "I think it's unfortunate that we haven't negotiated for Residential One to include that threshold of three bedroom units."

However, this did not stop her from supporting the project. She wound up voting in favour of the development permit.

Coun. Jenna Stoner also expressed disappointment that the development was not hitting the 20% goal that Elliott mentioned, but also threw her support behind the project.

"I appreciate the use of the mass timber," said Stoner. "I don't have any concerns with the height variance being sought this evening. [It's] not changing the overall height of the building, as was previously allowed up to 18 metres. It provides an extra story, which I think is okay in this area."

Coun. Eric Andersen said he appreciated the form and character of the building.

Regarding the no-gas covenant, he had a different take than Pettingill.

"I think our views are and our focus will evolve to better incorporate, beyond operational energy efficiency, the embodied carbon of the building and the building resiliency. In these latter two categories. I think that the design has taken admirable steps."

A staff report said that the project is using materials with low embodied energy and long lifespans to minimize energy used in building construction.


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