New apartment building proposed in Tofino

New apartment building proposed in Tofino

Tim Hackett hopes to build a 32-unit, three-storey apartment building.

A potential boost to the local housing supply took a step towards reality last week when Tofino’s municipal council gave their staff the go-ahead to work with Tim Hackett on his application to develop a 32-unit, three-storey apartment building at 700 Yew Wood in Tofino.

The property is currently zoned for 24 units and district staff requested permission from council to work with the applicant on a zoning amendment that would allow 32, which council gave.

The proposed building is expected to contain six one-bedroom units and 26 two-bedroom units. Two units will be reserved for affordable housing rentals and another seven units will be reserved for local residents, according to a report council received from the district’s Planner 1 Dana Hawkins.

Coun. Greg Blanchette said he’d be keeping a close eye on the amount of vegetation being removed to make room for the building and asked staff to ensure a buffer of trees remains between the building and the highway.

“That lot, right now, is a prime piece of urban forest,” he said. “My fear is that we’ll have a big looming apartment building over the entrance into town that we’re trying to keep a bit of a green corridor.”

Coun. Duncan McMaster said he liked the building’s concept, but suggested more amenities should be coming the district’s way from the developer in order for the project to go ahead.

Hackett spoke during the meeting and suggested adding more amenities would increase the price of the units.

“The only way that you can create affordable housing in this market or the Vancouver market or anywhere, is through density,” he said. “The issue with regards to amenities and things like that is all these costs get passed on to the purchaser.”

He added that he hopes to sell all the units to locals.

“I’m a great believer in people living in a community having the ability to purchase and that’s getting tougher and tougher everywhere,” he said.“The crisis in housing is now a crisis in employment and we’re seeing that here and we’re seeing that in all markets right now.”

In response to Blanchette’s concerns, Hackett suggested Tofino is running out of land to develop.

“To suggest that we should perhaps leave it as a forest and not worry about housing people, to me, is a very, very, wrong approach,” he said.

Council agreed to allow their staff to work with Hackett on a zoning amendment to move the project forward.