A clerical error has held up a housing development in Ucluelet.
A bylaw amendment that would bring Ucluelet its first pocket neighbourhood passed through third reading after an Oct. 25 public hearing and was expected to be adopted on Tuesday.
But, district staff left at least one public submission off the hearing’s agenda so council has been asked to rescind their prior third reading, review the missed submission, and go from there.
“As it is important that all those who feel this rezoning will affect them be heard, staff requests Third Reading be rescinded to give Council the opportunity to review this letter, prior to their consideration of Third Reading,” Ucluelet’s lead planner John Towgood wrote in a report submitted to Nov. 8’s council agenda.
The amendment would allow Chris Le Fevre to put roughly 24 individual homes on his 2.9-acre, 1782 St. Jacques Blvd., lot. The lot’s current zoning allows for 40 residential units but stipulates that at least three units must be connected while Le Fevre wants to build free-standing, individual structures.
During Oct. 25’s public hearing, locals raised concerns over the amount of space between the development and surrounding properties, potential water drainage issues, parking and traffic flow.
The most vocal concern from the hearing’s attendance was the discrepancy between what the developer is proposing and what the district is offering.
During a presentation to council in September, Le Fevre said his development would consist of 24 homes ranging in size from 700-1,200 square-feet, but the bylaw amendment being considered would allow for 30 homes and a maximum of 1,500 sq. ft.
Locals asked about this at the hearing and Le Fevre’s project manager Ray Hunt assured 30 homes would not be built.
“It depends what the local market wants…If there were only small cottages that the market drove, there might even be 25 units. But, the target that we have now, and the whole basis of this application, is 24 units,” Hunt said. “We had no part in writing the bylaw. Absolutely zero. We never mentioned 30…It isn’t 30. It’s impossible to get 30 with a pocket community.”
He added the site is zoned for 40 units as is.
“There could be 40 if somebody wanted it, which would kill the site unless it was a condominium block, to be frank,” he said. “All we’re saying is, can we please not have them in threes? Can we keep them apart…so that there’s a concept of sole ownership of the building?”
During council’s regular meeting after the hearing, Coun. Mayco Noel asked district staff why the amendment allowed for 30 units rather than 24.
Ucluelet’s lead planner John Towgood said the 30-unit conversation came up with the developer and would provide market leeway.
“It was to give him the ability to adjust to market conditions by creating more units at a smaller size,” Towgood said.
He added market conditions were also the reason for offering a 1,500 sq. ft. maximum size, despite the developer proposing a 1,200 sq. ft. maximum.
“I, again, added a little bit to what the developer had just to give a little bit of a buffer,” he said.
Noel asked how the district could be sure 30 units wouldn’t pop up once allowed.
“I gather from his responses tonight and, as well, from the initial first and second readings, that that’s not the direction they want to go. I just want to make sure that something doesn’t get derailed a little later down the road,” he said.
Towgood responded council could restart the conversation at 24 rather than 30 but reiterated that the developer could build 40 connected units without needing council’s approval.
“The applicant is still, we should recognize, allowed to do a 40-unit multi-family building,” he said.
Council agreed to move forward with the amendment as written but Noel said local concerns raised during the hearing, like increased traffic, would need to be investigated and addressed.
“The onus is upon us to make sure that gets sorted out,” he said.
St. Jacques noted the developer would be on the hook for roughly $232,000 worth of development cost payments to the district.
“The amounts are $40,000 towards parks, $85,000 towards water issues, $61,000 towards sewer problems, or things that might come up, and $46,000 for roads and sidewalks,” she said.
“So, that would give us the ability to do what we need to do. But, I agree 100 per cent that pedestrian safety in that area and the traffic flow are some things we’re going to have to make sure are taken care of.”