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Five-storey condo proposal clears public hearing

The Crucil brothers still have a long way to go to make their proposal a reality
The Crucil brothers hope to develop the former site of Dalby’s Automotive into a five-storey condo building. (Cole Schisler photo)

Frank and Mike Crucil’s proposal for a five-storey condo development at 201/203 Dogwood Drive has cleared the public hearing stage.

RELATED: Five storey condo building proposal at Dalby’s proceeds to public hearing stage

The proposal went to public hearing on April 6 where Council voted to proceed with third reading of Town of Ladysmith Zoning Bylaw 2014 No. 1860, Amendment Bylaw (No. 34) 2021, No, 2063. Council also directed staff to refer the bylaw to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure pursuant to section 52 of the Transportation Act.

Once completed, the condo will be comprised of 18 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units. The proposal was originally pitched as seniors rental housing but that is no longer the case. Units will be available for ownership under a strata and there will be no age restriction on ownership.

Although the proposal passed the public hearing stage, the Crucils still have a long way to go before breaking ground on their development.

Prior to any on-site work, the Crucils will have to develop a plan to remediate the historical contaminants that exist beneath Dalby’s Automotive.

Studies conducted by the Town of Ladysmith have shown that hydrocarbon contaminants exist in the soil beneath Dalby’s and are believed to have migrated down Forward Road. The Crucils will be required to produce their own study of the site which will provide a much clearer picture of the present state of contaminants on the property.

At a public information meeting held in the summer of 2020, the developers suggested that they will dig up the contaminated soil by putting in underground parking. Any remediation plan must be approved by the provincial government.

RELATED: Council talks next steps for seniors rental housing on Dalby’s site

RELATED: FMC Holdings proposes six storey apartment building at Dalby’s Automotive site

Once their remediation plan is approved, the Crucils will have to return to Council to obtain a development permit application.

Members of the public spoke out against the development. Concerns were expressed about the height of the building, potential impacts of traffic and parking, and whether the existing water main on Forward Road would be able to handle the increased demand from a five-storey condo.

Ladysmith resident Russ Barling raised concerns around the Forward Road water main, which has failed three times in the last five years. Barling noted that 14 of residents currently live on Forward Road and the condo proposal would add five times more residents.

“Have you assessed whether the currently unstable water, power and sewage utilities will be able to withstand such a dramatic increase in new users?” Barling asked.

Director of Infrastructure Services, Geoff Goodall said that there are no plans for sanitary, sewer, or storm infrastructure, but there are plans to improve the water main.

“For this development, there will be a water main that comes down Forward Road. We will be coming to Council with a report to then extend that to the end of Forward Road. That will replace the old AC water main that we had a failure on about a year ago.”

Goodall said that the developer’s contractor would likely carry out the water main work.

Other residents expressed concern that the proposal for Dalby’s in combination with the proposed brewpub across the street and a four-storey mixed-use building proposed at 336 Belaire Street would dramatically change the character of the neighbourhood.

“I feel that the proposed plan is not a good fit for this area of Ladysmith. It is excessive in form, height, mass, and densification in relation to the neighbourhood,” Ladysmith resident Cathy Gilroy wrote.

“Council must now ask themselves a tough question: “If we approve this project, will it be viewed as a success story (and why), or will it cause irreparable damage to the quaint, modest, small-town charm?” This is, after all, what we love about Ladysmith.”

Residents suggested that Council wait until the review of the official community plan was finished before allowing the proposal to move forward.

RELATED: OPINION: Wait until the new OCP is done before granting any OCP variances

Councillor Marsh Stevens refuted the idea, saying that the OCP has been amended 61 times since 2003 and the zoning bylaw that goes with it has been amended 31 times since 2015.

“These are living documents, they get changed all the time. And the changes that have been made are not small ones,” Stevens said. “On balance, we’re not going radically away from things that have been done in the OCP over the years on many fronts.”

Despite the concerns, Council was not persuaded to vote against the proposal. Council reasoned that the proposal ‘checked all the boxes’ for community planning best practices.

“It cleans up an eyesore, there’s environmental clean-up, it adds housing,” councillor Jeff Virtanen said. “I think it was Councillor McKay when we were talking about the OCP review discussed walkable neighbourhoods and that we like to strive for stuff like that. Our hills present us a challenge with that sometimes, but here we go, 24 families can walk downtown and shop at our local businesses without tackling any hills.”

Virtanen added that while many residents are opposed to the development, there are many residents who want the project to get underway.

“No project is perfect. No project is going to make 100 percent of our residents happy. But for me on this one, the positives really outweigh the negatives,” Virtanen said.

Councillor Rob Johnson was the only councillor to vote against the proposal. Johnson made clear that he was in favour of the development in principle but expressed concerns about the impact of increased traffic in the neighbourhood.

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