Diamond Head Development is seeking to build 20 duplex units, 18 townhouses and 172 apartment units between four apartment buildings in the Loggers East neighbourhood.
On Jan. 11, District staff presented council with the developer's plan to build at the eastmost end of Finch and Raven Drive, which is a hilly, sloped area.
The properties span 8.5 hectares and are zoned RS-1 for single-family homes. Diamond Head is seeking to have it rezoned to a Comprehensive Development Zone 101, or CD-101.
The lands are located on the east end of Finch and Raven Drive, totalling 8.5 hectares in area.
Regarding height, the proponent's application seeks to create apartment buildings that are either five storeys high or 18 metres high — whichever is less.
Under the newly-adopted neighbourhoood plan, buildings in the area are only supposed to be four storeys, but District staff said this exception was justified.
"The rationale for allowing the apartment buildings to exceed the four-storey height is to reduce the apartment building footprints to allow for more open space on the site and to reduce the amount of retaining that may be required to accommodate the buildings on the upper portion of the site," said Bryan Daly, development and subdivision co-ordinator
"Reducing the building footprints and maintaining open space is supported in the site design guidelines in the hillside housing policies. The steep topography of the site, and the lack of neighbours to the east, should minimize impacts on neighbouring views."
Daly said there are also proposals for reductions in parking requirements.
It would reduce the requirement by 0.25 spaces per apartment unit type and reduce visitor spaces to 0.1 spaces per unit for 72 of the 172 units. There are supposed to be between one and two stalls per unit, depending on the size of the unit.
Daly said this would result in a reduction of 60 stalls from the standard zoning bylaw requirement.
"The reduced parking standard would result in 990 square metres of green space as opposed to providing the paved parking stalls. It should be noted that the proposal includes visitor parking for the duplex units, which is not a requirement in the zoning bylaw," said Daly.
He said staff were supportive of the reduced parking for several reasons.
First, he said 32 of the units will be reserved for affordable housing, which exceeds the 10% requirement for community amenity contributions.
Daly added 60 of the apartment units will be located on the lower portion of the site, closer to active transportation structure. There would also be a three-metre-wide multi-use path proposed along the extension of Finch Drive to the upper portion of the site.
The multi-use path would continue from the site along Finch Drive to Loggers Lane. Finally, the developer is also proposing an e-bike share program, he said.
Childcare space for at least 25 kids, children's play facilities, and ski jumps for the Squamish Legacy Sports Park, among other things, are on the table.
Council provided feedback on the proposal.
"I'm happy with the density here. Often, we see a sort of push for the maximum that's allowed, versus what's actually achievable on the site. I do think that this is a good mix. I was happy to see the duplexes and the apartment buildings," said Coun. Armand Hurford.
"The apartment building height is a challenging one. We did this through a subarea planning process, our neighbourhood planning process, and it gave us a different number. But I do think as you get into the specific sites — and the constraints and potentials of the sites — that there could be some flexibility there to go up."
Coun. John French said he supported the parking space numbers.
The cycling infrastructure, paths, trails and potential future transit creates a scenario where there are very few barriers to active transit, French said.
"I think this supports the parking numbers proposed," he said.
French also called the community amenity contributions a generous package.
Coun. Eric Andersen said that this development will be a learning experience on developing on steep slopes.
"I'm impressed with what is being proposed and delivered in this plan toward the challenging terrain that we're dealing with," Andersen said.
He said he didn't have any concern with building heights.
Regarding parking, he said there was some uncertainty, but a miscalculation will not have a spillover effect on the rest of the neighbourhood.
"There's little anybody can do about it in this terrain. Elsewhere, I might be more concerned about the implications of miscalculating car parking demands, but here it may simply just be the market," Andersen said.
The main issue would be that It may be harder to sell some of the units, he said.
Coun. Doug Race advocated for asking the developer to make a donation of fee simple land for affordable housing as part of their community amenity contribution.
He noted that the District's housing society had just been incorporated, and while it's not up and running yet, the society can start making future plans on the matter.
"I think the important thing for us as a council is to take opportunities when they come. We don't always have control over that," Race said.
French and Mayor Karen Elliott also agreed on Race's proposal.
"The District stands to subsidize the housing society up to $1 million over five years," said Elliott, regarding Race's proposal. "The faster they get land in their hands, the faster they can start planning, the faster we can stop subsidizing them, because they are turning an income."
She said the development is close to amenities, downtown and a soon-to-be expanded transit route.
Elliott said there are few opportunities for affordable housing like this.
"I'd like to see a proposal that definitely comes forward considering this," she said.
Elliott also said she would like to see some storage options for people in smaller units. If parking is being reduced, there needs to at least be storage space available.
Coun. Chris Pettingill said he was concerned about the potential path for the FortisBC pipeline in the area, and its proximity to the affordable units.
He said the location of those units might be a problem.
"That's still an outstanding issue," Pettingill said.
He said he was comfortable with the density and the mix of units.
Staff and the developer will take into account the feedback from elected officials and appear again before council at a future date.