Squamish council recently passed the first three readings of a downtown development, marking the first instance where they will not be having a public hearing because of new provincial legislation.
At the Feb. 6 regular business meeting, District of Squamish council members unanimously passed the first three readings of a development from applicant Site Lines Architecture, which includes15 residential units and about 400 square metres of commercial space on 37794 and 37780 Second Ave.
The development is near the Second Avenue and Vancouver Street intersection, approximately diagonal to Howe Sound Inn and Brewing.
With this approval, the application will seek adoption at a future council meeting.
This particular application is significant because it is the first application since new provincial legislation that prohibits public hearings for rezoning applications, if they meet certain thresholds. As noted to council by municipal planner Philip Gibbins, the legislation does not allow public hearings for developments that are primarily residential and consistent with an Official Community Plan.
“This application before you tonight meets this threshold, and therefore, a public hearing cannot be held for this rezoning,” Gibbins said.
Gibbins said the District continues to put a notice in The Squamish Chief print newspaper for two consecutive weeks and notifies neighbours before these readings, as they would have with a public hearing.
He noted that residents can provide feedback on the development showcase or write to the planning department or council. In this case, there were no comments or requests for a public information meeting.
“This is a fairly clear-cut application,” said Coun. Andrew Hamilton. “It's good to see things coming through the new regulations being able to come to us quickly, so decisions can be made in an efficient manner.”
The application proposes $138,000 in a community amenity contribution. The four-storey building will have six one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units. There will be 15 residential parking spots, equalling one per unit, and two commercial parking spots.
Three two-bedroom units will be secured as market rental for perpetuity, and a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom unit will be adaptable to accessibility needs. The applicant is also committing to having no natural gas on the property.
“[I] appreciate the proponent's efforts to use our density bonus system in terms of allowing additional market rental and that there's a variety of … bedroom units within the housing development,” said Coun. Jenna Stoner. “I think that'll be well-served in our community.”
Coun. Eric Andersen pointed out the development’s proximity to Vancouver Street, a trucking route, and how developments along this street will increase pedestrian traffic. Andersen said Squamish Terminals and others have raised issue of pedestrian and trucking traffic.
“I am inclined to suggest that Squamish Terminals, being the key stakeholder in the truck route, might be contacted directly in a case like this, although it has, of course, been advertised in the newspaper,” Andersen said.
Review the application and District report on the development on squamish.ca.