The front of the Ukee Peninsula Motel. ( photo)

The front of the Ukee Peninsula Motel. ( photo)

Ukee Peninsula Motel gets green light for redevelopment

Plans include removing the Sake Sushi building and constructing a 3-storey motel off Larch Road

Ucluelet’s archetypal 1970’s motor inn on Peninsula Road is getting a major face-lift.

The owners of the Ukee Peninsula Motel received the nod from mayor and council during the April 26 meeting to continue on with a development proposal that includes: removing the Sake Sushi building and renovating the existing motel building, plus adding a 3-storey motel building (off Larch Road), a 2-storey motel building (mid-property) and a 2-storey mixed commercial building fronting Peninsula Road.

Project architect Matt Hansen attended the meeting via Zoom to show council a 3D animation of the proposal and to answer questions. He said the project will expand the property to house about 50 nightly rental suites and provide two units of staff accommodation.

Councillor Lara Kemps, who is the assistant general manager at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, wanted to know how many people the staff housing would accommodate.

“With two bunk beds in each room, maybe up to 12 or 15,” said Hansen, noting that he would consult with the owners for confirmation.

Councillor Rachelle Cole asked if the parking lot had extra spaces for staff vehicles.

“To be honest, I don’t believe that was accounted for. As stated before, the parking that is provided does meet the parking bylaws and the zoning bylaws. It does not accommodate for extra spaces for that staff parking,” said Hansen.

Hansen went on to say that the landscaping will feature a natural buffer between Larch Road and the new back building as well as a pedestrian access point that connects Larch and Peninsula.

Mayor Noel expressed his support for the project.

“It’s great to see the investment. It’s been a long time since an owner in the community has done this, so I appreciate your plans,” he said.

Noel went on to encourage the applicant and architect to consider adding EV charging stations and a spot for people to put bicycles.

“With the new bike path on the West Coast to Tofino that’s escalating the use of bicycles and with the infrastructure upgrades that we are doing to Peninsula Road, I think that it would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of those two things,” said Noel.

“I agree,” said Hansen. “With the way things are going in the world we couldn’t have enough of those EV stations.”

Ian Riddick, owner of the neighbouring Heartwood Kitchen, offered his full support for the development in a letter to council. His lone concern was to do with the landscaping, in particular the bamboo growl growing uncontrollably.

“It is our hope that the removal of the Sake Sushi building will include the removal and mitigation of this highly invasive plant,” wrote Riddick.

District staff said the removal of the bamboo could be included as a condition of the development permit.

The Ukee Peninsula Motel application also includes a visual upgrade to the Peninsula streetscape: a large art mural is planned for the east wall of the existing building that faces Peninsula Road.

“We love this community,” wrote the owners of the Ukee Peninsula Motel in a message to the Westerly. “Having lived and owned a business in Ucluelet since 2016, we have come to appreciate the people as well as the beautiful ecology. This project will create opportunities for locals to have their own businesses, provide housing, jobs, and allow visitors to come without overwhelming the small number of businesses in the high season.”

The owners went on to say that they hope the community will embrace the project and that they look forward to collaborating throughout the process. Construction is slated to begin in October 2022.

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