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Rocky Creek commercial plaza passes public hearing

The proposed plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road would bring commercial activity to Ladysmith’s north end
A conceptual rendering of the commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)

Ladysmith Town Council held a public hearing on a proposed shopping plaza at the intersection of Rocky Creek Road and Ludlow.

RELATED: Commercial plaza proposed for Rocky Creek and Ludlow intersection

The June 15 hearing resulted in council proceeding with third reading of amendment bylaws that would change the zoning of the property from industrial to general commercial. The changes allow for a commercial plaza and drive-through coffee shop on the property.

Renderings of the plaza show a large Dollarama and a Starbucks Coffee shop as proposed tenants of the development. The new zoning allows for businesses like an animal daycare, artist studios, building supply stores, garden centres, home improvement service stores, micro-breweries, laboratories, media production studios, neighbourhood pubs, non-motorized recreational equipment sales or rental, a print shop, and a re-store.

The Official Community Plan, (OCP), designation and zoning in this area have changed several times. In 2008, the OCP designation and zoning on the subject property and five adjacent parcels on Rocky Creek Road were changed from light industrial to a comprehensive development zone.

Comprehensive development zoning allowed for a hotel and related uses. The hotel development did not proceed, and in 2017 the OCP designation and zoning on the five adjacent parcels were returned to light industrial. In 2018, the Town changed the OCP designation on the subject property from “Mixed-Use Waterfront” to “Industrial” on the vacant properties.

There is an existing covenant on the property from the 2008 development proposal. Green building and landscaping standards must be used. There are provisions for a transit stop, an outdoor public space, and a historical artifact acknowledging the location of the 49th Parallel; and $1,000 of amenity contribution per residential unit.

The developers must also construct and partially fund a roundabout at the intersection of Rocky Creek and Ludlow Road.

Based on the findings of the Waterfront Area Plan Transportation Review, the Ludlow/Rocky Creek Road roundabout was identified as a Development Cost Charges (DCC) project. The DCC Bylaw allocates $1,000,000 for the roundabout with $990,000 funded from DCCs and a $10,000 municipal assist from the Town’s capital budget.

The Town started designing the roundabout in 2020 and the cost estimate is $1,696,8803. Approximately $700,000 more than the DCC budget.

The proposed design of the Ludlow/Rocky Creek roundabout. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)
The proposed design of the Ludlow/Rocky Creek roundabout. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)

The development and adjacent boulevards will be provided with an outdoor electrical supply and outlets which can be used by the Town for special events like the Ladysmith Festival of Lights.

Councillors Jeff Virtanen and Tricia McKay expressed excitement about the development — saying that it is the first step in visible changes happening on Ladysmith’s waterfront, that the development will bring jobs to Ladysmith and that it will help fund what would have been a costly capital project on the roundabout.

“It’s going to create a very important change to the structure of our town and I find it quite exciting that we’re getting to see this piece of land developed — and hopefully some other changes down on our waterfront not too far behind,” McKay said.

However, Councillors Rob Johnson and Marsh Stevens doubted that a commercial plaza was the best use for the property.

“Putting in a 20,000 square foot Dollarama and a drive-through isn’t the best use of that property. I would love to see the property developed, I agree with all the benefits of a development on that property, but I don’t think this is the project we want to the gateway to our town,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he’d prefer to see a hotel or a family-style restaurant on the property developed instead. Johnson and Stevens were the only councillors to vote against the development.

No members of the public participated in the hearing despite repeated calls for public comment.

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