Fred Green’s Belair Street development cleared another hurdle at a Town of Ladysmith public hearing held on December 2.
Town Council voted in favour of the amendments under Zoning Amendment Bylaw 2020 and Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 2018. The OCP Amemdment Bylaw proceeded with third reading and final adoption, and the Zoning Amendement Bylaw proceeded through third reading and was referred to the Ministry of Transportation because the site is within 800 metres of a controlled highway. This will allow Green to move forward with the development.
This is Green’s third public meeting. He hosted two public meetings at his own expense. The project idea was developed through consultation with Ladysmith residents during that process. This public hearing was a legal requirement under the Local Government Act for the Town to proceed with final adoption of the bylaw amendments.
“There’s a value to having the several public meetings that I funded and held over the course of the summer so that everybody could have a chance to understand the project, and get their input into it,” Green said. “I’m pleased with the final outcome, and I think it’s a result of being very rigorous, and hopefully having set the gold standard for the community engagement for these types of processes.”
Green will now finalize the exact details of the development. He will then seek a development permit, and a building permit to commence construction. There will also be environmental remediation work, and possible demolition work to remove the old RCMP building.
“We still have many months of grinding ahead of us. Hopefully with the rezoning established we can start these next steps,” Green said.
The proposed project is a three-storey building with a maximum height of 11 metres. The main floor will house some type of commercial development, likely a brewpub or cafe. The upper levels will be residential units.
Four residents of the surrounding area spoke against the development. Jo Sheridan, who lives at Bellwood Village, said she has enjoyed living in the area, and often spoken with her neighbours about what would potentially replace the former RCMP station that currently occupies the site.
“Never in our wildest dreams, in our worst nightmares, did we imagine that in the heart of this area there would be a proposed brewpub,” Sheridan said. “On top of the brewpub, we could never have imagined there would be a tall modern building, that architecturally is nothing like the buildings around it.”
Sheridan expressed concerns about views being blocked, increased noise and traffic to the area, and possible smells from the site. She also said she was particularly concerned about the availability of parking around the site.
Vince Herkel of Rigby Place presented a petition signed by residents of the surrounding area requesting that Town Council vote against the proposed amendments. The petition was signed by 26 people.
Doug Judson also spoke against the project. He lived in the area when the RCMP station was operational, and remembers the RCMP putting up signs to prohibit parking along Rigby Place. Judson was concerned that the concept drawings are, ‘not relevant’ to how the project will look in reality.
“I want to see the lights turned on in that building. I want to see something done, but this is not it,” Judson said.
Judson has worked in contracting for 32 years. He said he read through all applicable Town of Ladysmith bylaws and requirements for this development to move forward, and he does not believe the building can proceed while meeting the requirements.
“Everything that’s going to happen after [zoning] is going to hit a brick wall. I cannot see this neighbourhood benefiting from this when it goes in,” he said.
On the question of parking, director of development services, Jake Belobaba clarified that there will be adequate parking spaces to meet the demand of the proposed development. At full build out, there will be 40 parking spaces in the area, which includes both on-site and street parking on Belair and Rigby. This includes the requirements for commercial, residential, and frontage improvements.
Councillors expressed that they were compelled by submissions from the surrounding neighbourhood, however they ultimately voted in favour of the resolutions. Council cited the need of the Town as a whole, balanced with the needs of nearby residents.
“In the end, our guidance is always to do what we feel is best for the greatest number of the community, and balance that with those in the immediate area. It’s not an easy decision for council,” Mayor Aaron Stone said.
Councillor Marsh Stevens said by his count, the Town received 105 letters in favour of the project, and a petition with 148 names, opposed to 10 letters against the project and a petition with 26 names.
Council voted unanimously in favor of the motion.