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This big development could reshape downtown Squamish

Residential-commercial The Village proposal at Cleveland-Bailey draws railway concerns.
The proposed location for The Village.

A new major residential-commercial development dubbed 'The Village' has been proposed for the Cleveland-Bailey area, raising some concerns from council about density and proximity to a rail line.

The project seeks to bring 200 residential units, along with a substantial amount of employment space to the area.

On Sept. 14, staff presented the potential development to council and asked elected officials for feedback on the matter.

The meeting took place during a Committee of the Whole, and therefore was not a rezoning hearing. Instead, it was a means to gather feedback that may affect how the next iteration of the proposal materializes before it's brought forth for a formal rezoning hearing.

Some on council also asked that two public information meetings be held on the matter before it starts to formally make its way through the rezoning process with council.

If it gets the green light, the Village is expected to be constructed at 1331, 1251 and a portion of 1100 Bailey St. and 38261 Cleveland Ave.

Currently, the site is zoned as Downtown Commercial C-4 and Rail Transportation I-6. If it jumps through all of its rezoning hurdles, that land will be turned into a Comprehensive Development zone.

The project is divided into three main parts — Lot A, Lot B and Lot C.

Lot A would consist of a five-storey commercial building and a second two-storey commercial building with a mix of childcare and office space.

District planner Kerry Hamilton said this area is expected to provide space for about 224 jobs, which would amount to about one per housing unit in the development.

Hamilton also said there should be space for about 127 parking stalls in this lot as well.

All residential units would then be divided between Lot B and Lot C.

Lot B is proposed to have a five-storey multi-family residential building, which would also include an underground garage space.

The facility is expected to bring 16 three-storey townhouses fronting Bailey Street, 24 two-storey townhouses fronting a rear courtyard, 16 two-storey apartments and a 36-unit one-storey apartment building. 

All units will be provided with two parking stalls and 23 required visitor parking stalls.

Finally, the proposal would place a five-storey multi-family facility on Lot C. That facility would have a ground floor parkade area and would also be divided into four separate four-storey buildings.

There would be 32 one- and two-bedroom units and 44 bachelor units. 

Staff say the facility will be short on visitor stalls. This type of project would require 27 visitor stalls, but nine are proposed. 

The land currently is home to an unofficial parking lot for many people living in the Eaglewind development. Currently, the northside shoulder of Bailey can accommodate about 120 parked cars.

With the proposal, it would be converted into a rain garden and multi-use path. Parking would still be accommodated on-street, but there will be room for only 30 parallel-parked cars.

Staff say the developer is also willing to entertain a monthly paid parking service during the evenings on Lot A to help address the parking shortage.

The loss of this parking is a main concern of members of the public. Staff say that with the exception of three people, all 43 who wrote in regarding the project were outright opposed to the development.

Council took some time to give feedback on the matter. 

A major concern from Mayor Karen Elliott involved how close the development was to the CN Rail line.

Staff said there may need to be additional work on the project design, given the closeness of the proposed facilities to the railway.

CN guidelines ask for a 15-metre setback away from the closest residential units. The rail also seeks an earthen berm with an acoustical fence atop of it in between.

Staff said at least one of the lots may have to be redesigned to accommodate these guidelines.

"I can't really see the benefit to the folks living there," said Elliott. "Their public realm basically backs onto a railroad or a crash wall, which doesn't seem like it hits the bar for me in terms of liveability."

She said the development should respect the rail corridor setbacks.

Elliott said train traffic is likely to increase in the future.

"Trains can idle there for quite some time — really worried about the fumes that will go up and into people's homes in those locations," she said. 

There's also the possibility of noise concerns, she added.

Elliott said that any affordable housing in this development should be based on income, not on the market price.

Coun. Chris Pettingill said that he would like to see the number of cars and parking in the area substantially reduced.

"I would prefer to see a lot fewer parking spots here and a lot more expectation and clarity that this is not a place for people with lots of cars," said Pettingill. "You come here without a car if you want to live here."

He also added there should be no fossil fuel infrastructure in the development. The facilities should support electric vehicles and have zero emissions.

Coun. Armand Hurford was concerned, among other things, about viewscapes.

Hurford said it was crucial to preserve the views of Squamish, and noted he particularly valued being able to see Mt. Garibaldi and the Stawamus Chief.

"I didn't feel enough attention was paid to that so far," he said.

Coun. Doug Race noted that it would be ideal if the facility had variations on its design and massing, rather than just being a monolithic wall of buildings.

He said this project might be the first opportunity to consider an ownership — rather than rental — model for affordable housing.

Race noted it would be hard to tie a one-time price to income, but some organizations like BC Housing would likely have models regarding affordable ownership practices.

Coun. John French advocated for some kind of public art to be included in the project.

Staff said they would confer with the developer to address some of the feedback, especially with regard to CN Rail's guidelines.

A public information meeting is expected to be scheduled after these details have been ironed out.