Three lots owned by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw are going through a rezoning process to allow for subsidized apartment buildings. (Port Hardy staff image)

Port Hardy Council to decide on rezoning Park Drive land for apartment buildings

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw owns the land and wants to build subsidized rental units

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations have applied to rezone the vacant lots they own on Park Drive across from the Tsulquate Park, where they plan to build subsidized apartment housing.

The lots are currently zoned as institutional use for the proposed Big House, but since that decision was made in 2018, the nations decided to construct the Big House on Tsulquate Reserve land, freeing up the Park Drive lots for residential use.

Council heard from the public in a Zoom-based hearing Aug. 26, where the main concern expressed from three residents were regarding ocean views and change to the neighbourhood.

The initial rezoning application asked for a height restriction of up to 12 metres, but the developer — Urban Strategies, contracted by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw — since said the project can be completed within the standard three-story, 11-metre height limit.

Port Hardy staff created a new zoning bylaw called RM-3 Multiple Unit Residential Rental Tenure, that has the same height and set-back requirements of other zones in Port Hardy, but allows for some multi-use flexibility that can be applied to other sites in the future.

One resident expressed concern about the density a project like this would bring to a quiet, detached home neighbourhood. Council assured him they would take that into consideration.

Heather Nelson-Smith, Port Hardy’s Director of Corporate Services said council will make a decision on the rezoning “between now and October.” If RM-3 zoning goes ahead, the project will proceed to development permit phase where more specifics will be worked out.

At present, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw is proposing three buildings with nine units each, a total of 27 units, with the possibility of building a further three buildings in the future.

While the rental units will be owned by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda, they will not be exclusive to band members. BC Housing requirements will be followed to approve tenants.

READ MORE: Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation drafts first phase of passive housing project

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