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Ladysmith council refers Holland Creek amendment back to staff

No public opposition expressed at hearing, but councillors have questions
A map of an official community plan amendment application for Holland Creek’s Arbour Heights area. The drawing indicates the uses and areas being proposed by the developer in the Holland Creek area plan. (Town of Ladysmith image)

Ladysmith council, following a public hearing, have put the Holland Creek Arbour Heights project on hold for now.

At an online meeting Aug. 2, the Town of Ladysmith held a public hearing for Arbour Heights, in the Holland Creek area plan, but did not proceed with third reading and asked staff for further discussion with the applicant and potential changes.

The proponents are requesting an amendment to allow for single-family residential and townhomes along with optional local commercial and park usage. These changes would amend the official community plan and the existing zoning bylaws.

No members of the public spoke at the hearing, though one letter in opposition was received after the correspondence deadline. A spokesperson for the developer addressed council to present reasons for granting the requested amendments.

During council’s ensuing discussion, Coun. Marsh Stevens stated that he wasn’t totally against the proposal but felt that the plan had 30-40 too few residences. As well, he wanted to see that the proposed neighbourhood commercial properties be commercial and not left to go undeveloped and then a request come for a change to residential. He wanted to see his concerns addressed further before he could support the zoning amendments.

Coun. Duck Paterson expressed concerns about the wording of the public hearing notices. He said the wording made it sound like environmental conditions were on the table to be removed from estate lots, though staff advised the opposite is true.

Director of planning,Jake Belobaba explained that there would be more “surgical” environmental considerations attached to that area that would give the town a stronger voice in the development of the area. The new wording would restrict builders from totally clearing lots and ensure the developer initiates an invasive species plan.

Paterson also inquired if the town can ensure that the local commercial zoned areas are developed as commercial space, as residential is one of the allowed uses in the C-1 zone.

Coun. Rob Johnson wondered who would be responsible for the care of the proposed park areas and staff said that if it’s a dedicated park, the town would be responsible for the upkeep, but if the lands are an amenity area owned by the strata, maintenance would be the owners’ responsibility.

Mayor Aaron Stone expressed concerns about the ecological protection of various ‘red zone’ areas that contain some environmentally sensitive plants. He also shared other councillors’ questions about the proposed commercial zoning being commercially developed, and staff pointed out that the commercial sites could be ‘preserved’ for commercial on the main floor with residential on subsequent floors.

There was discussion between staff and council about infrastructure and the ability to supply water at certain altitudes, with anything above that requiring pumps and possible reservoirs. There was concern about the maintenance of such facilities and responsibilities. Staff stated that the proponent is proposing a bare-land strata development and discussion on the future of such infrastructure still needs to be addressed.

After discussion, Stone suggested that council refer the item back to staff and the proponent for more discussion and see if the questions posed at the meeting could be addressed. Council voted to postpone the third reading.

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