Despite changes made to the development proposal for the former Garibaldi Springs golf course, it appeared Tuesday night as if council remains divided on the project.
Councillors Ted Prior, Karen Elliott and Doug Race praised the changes made to the application and voted to move the revised proposal to a public hearing on Sept. 6.
Mayor Patricia Heintzman, who was the deciding vote last time the application was before council, also supported moving the new application to a public hearing.
“I think it’s a vast improvement,” said Heintzman, who voted against the project in May, partly out of concern that the ecological reserve lands were too divided up.
Councillors Jason Blackman-Wulff, Susan Chapelle and Peter Kent opposed going to a public hearing on Tuesday night, citing concerns around the process in addition to their previous concerns about expanding housing onto a green site.
The original version of the plan divided the 48.3 hectares of land into four different segments, with residential developments situated throughout a much larger area of parkland and ecological reserve.
The new version of the project moves a large portion of the housing into the southern parcel.
District staff said that the change in the plan is meant to provide less fragmentation of the green space, although it will mean two fish-bearing human-made ponds that were once part of the golf course will need to be filled in.
The Department of Oceans and Fisheries Canada will need to approve the project, but that can only happen once council makes a zoning decision.
The overall number of units has also decreased in the new proposal from 350 to 310, and 18 units in total will be designated affordable housing. “Look at the green space, look at the amenities we’re getting. To deny that to the community? I just don’t get it,” said Prior.
Generally, after an application is rejected at third reading, developers must wait a full six months before going back to council.
In this case, the new Official Community Plan and the revisions to the project allowed Polygon to bypass that waiting period.
While he acknowledged that technically bylaws were being respected, Coun. Blackman-Wulff said he didn’t support the application and felt it was wrong to bring the project back so quickly. “I feel in this case, the vote was clear,” he said. “I can see people getting tired out from the process, whereas for an applicant, there is money on the line, so they will be here all the time. I don’t think it sends a good message. I can’t in good conscience support it.”
The reading was also postponed last month after a concerned citizen pointed out that the full commenting period of 21 days had not been observed.
The full list of changes to the application are summarized in a staff report that can be found in the meeting’s agenda at squamish.ca.