Ladysmith town council carried first and second reading of proposed zoning and Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments to support a large housing development on Rocky Creek Road.
A conceptual plan shown to council at its Feb. 1 meeting shows a total of 282 dwelling units on the 4.7-hectare site at 1301/1391 Rocky Creek Road. There is a proposed mix of single-family dwellings, apartments and townhomes. The plan also shows 1,650 square metres of commercial space, spread between three buildings.
The amendments will have to go through a public hearing before council approves, refines or denied the application.
“There is a lot of ground to cover, water to go under the bridge before this goes to public hearing,” said Mayor Aaron Stone. “So it might be some time before we go to the next stage of this process and that is really the most critical stage.”
The proposal consists of 20–24 single dwelling parcels, seven apartment buildings of up to six storeys (234–242 units total) and 20–24 townhomes. The townhomes are proposed to be near the waterfront, while the apartments are set to be close to Rocky Creek Road. Single dwelling parcels would occupy the space between.
“Ladysmith is considered to be a seaside town — we like to see it as a seaside town — and yet so little of it has the ability for people to actually live adjacent to the water,” said Coun. Tricia McKay, who supported the application.
Toby Seward and Frank Crucil provided a delegation to council regarding the application and answered councillor’s questions.
“This is unusual for a property like this to have all types of housing forms, but we think it is very appropriate for this site,” Seward said.
He said the plans include a tree buffer between the development and neighbours and many concerns heard from the neighbourhood at information meetings in July and September have been addressed.
Crucil said the property was purchased from the Oak Bay marine group about two and a half years ago. The majority of the property was previously used as a campground/mobile home park, which closed in 2011 and it is now vacant.
“We are all aware of the critical housing shortage and have read housing reports. It is not our intent to build this project out all at once, but with a staged building of at least one apartment building immediately,” Crucil said. “My definition of immediate is certainly different [from] the bureaucratic process that we follow. However, I am open to a number of concurrent steps that can be done together, rather than consecutively and will welcome a positive relationship with the town.”
A housing need report predicted the need for 510 units in Ladysmith by 2025, with 384 of them being one bedroom.
The proposed development would represent about 55 per cent of the total needed units. Crucil said the pandemic’s push for people to work from home has had an impact on growth in island communities.
“We are finding from our recent Davis road subdivisions that many people are relocating to the island, to Ladysmith, and bringing their jobs with them, creating further economic growth to our area that some may or may not see.”
The tallest buildings are planned to be at the Rocky Creek Road frontage and the development would slope down to the water. Seward said the apartments will likely be a combination of four–six-storey buildings.
It is not clear yet how many of the dwellings will be rentals. “We need some flexibility here because we don’t have a detailed design of how these buildings are going to shape up,” Crucil said.
Existing zoning on the property allows for 75 single dwelling units. The applicant agreed to provide the town $1,000 per unit in excess of the existing zoning as a community amenity contribution.
Council directed town staff to refer the application to Stz’uminus First Nation and the province’s archaeology branch prior to scheduling a public hearing. The town will require the applicant to provide parkland dedication, but the location of the park is not yet determined.
First and second readings were carried unanimously.
“Each morning I think of how grateful I am to be born in Ladysmith and my grandfather moved from Italy to the best country in the world and the best place in the world,” said Crucil. “I think sometimes we take that for granted and this opens up opportunities for people to live here too.”