Change in plans for Britannia Beach development | Squamish Chief

Change in plans for Britannia Beach development

More greenspace may result after Macdonald Development fails to acquire Crown land

An inability to acquire a parcel of Crown land has forced Macdonald Development to shift plans for its Britannia Beach project.

However, developers say the absence of this parcel shouldn't hurt the end product in a substantial way. The buildings will be constructed on other portions of land and the omitted piece of government property may be converted into greenspace.

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"After a second kick at it, we think it actually comes out a little bit nicer, because there's a bigger parkland," said project manager Bill Baker.

The parcel of land was previously owned by Macdonald, but was transferred back to the province awhile ago. Realizing it could be an asset in the development, the company tried to buy back the property.

However, Baker said the province wanted to sell it for about $3.9 million, a price that didn't suit the company.

The province confirmed that Macdonald tried to negotiate a price with the Crown, but didn't answer a question as to whether the $3.9-million figure was accurate.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Forests said the province is entertaining the idea of finishing up the work Macdonald started on the Crown parcel.

A view of the latest plans for Britannia. The newest addition is a greenspace at the top right of the diagram. - Steven Chua

Anticipating that it would be able to reacquire the property, Macdonald started adding fill and cleaning the area before entering negotiations, which have since fallen apart.

Fill was necessary to raise structural bases in case of a flood, and cleaning was necessary to remove metals and other mining-related materials from the area, given its proximity to a former mine.

Should the province finish up the work on the area, Baker said Macdonald may be able to construct a playground and community garden and have the area as greenspace.

This may depend, however, on the SLRD. Baker said the SLRD is considering applying to the Crown for a grant that would allow the community to use it as a public park.

The province confirmed the regional district has expressed interest in the idea, but SLRD chief administrative officer Lynda Flynn said that the board still has yet to make a vote on the matter.

As a result, Flynn said the SLRD won't be making an application to the province until the regional district board authorizes it.

Aside from the creation of possible greenspace, the absence of the Crown parcel in the development will result in a few other changes.

Baker says there would be 6,000 less square feet of commercial space, but few changes to residential units.

The current iteration of the project will have 64 townhouse units, nine live-work spaces and 11 rental units.

Macdonald originally proposed 60 for-purchase townhomes, 13 market live-work townhomes, and 14 rental apartments to the land in front of the mining museum.

Some buildings will be repositioned.

There was some rumour of the promised community hall being axed out of the deal, but Donal O'Callaghan, chief development officer of Macdonald, said the hall will still be fixed up and given back to the public.

The previously-promised 99-year lease to the local community association will go ahead, he said.

Due to the changes, the SLRD will rescind its previous three readings on the project and it will once more have to jump through the same hoops, including a public hearing.

The process is expected to be a bit faster this time around, since many basic administrative items have already been taken care of, Baker said.

Macdonald hopes to have it go before the SLRD board later this month.

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