A developer is seeking rezoning to build a new 70-80 unit residential development near Tsulquate Park in Port Hardy.
Two public hearings were held on May 9 at the Port Hardy council chambers, one at 1:00 p.m. and the other at 6:00 p.m., to gather input from residents regarding the rezoning needed for the possible development.
Both hearings were attended by residents who had multiple questions about the development and how it would impact the neighbourhood and wildlife in the area.
“At the moment the intention of the rezoning is to allow the client to buy the property, so if they cannot get the rezoning the property purchase can’t go through,” explained the project’s architect, Derek Venter from DVAD Inc., who spoke at both hearings.
Venter’s client is the Pathfinder Development Corporation who applied to the District of Port Hardy to rezone 8700 Park Drive from R-2 Duplex Residential to a Comprehensive Development Zone-9, which will permit duplex dwelling, apartment dwelling, attached dwelling, and community care facility.
“We are not at a place where we have a detailed design, but the vision or direction we get from the client is to create a space where people want to come to live and experience nature,” explained Venter, “But for how it is actually going to look, we have absolutely no idea.”
Venter said if they were building the same project in Langley they could fit 150 units, but that is not what they want to do in Port Hardy.
“We do hope to have a very green space with lots of walkways in between, a very open space, not high density because I think that is what people want to buy here, but the neighbourhood is going to change there is no question,” noted Venter.
The proposed zoning also include uses for a “community care facility” which Venter said they envision is for a 2,000 sqft. clubhouse space which would accommodate a wide range of uses for the community.
“We are hoping to propose very environmentally friendly energy efficient buildings and our target market is definitely people who would live here on a permanent basis,” he said, adding, “We have already been contacted by people who want to downsize, people who want to retire, so we expect it will be a good mix of people that will be interested.”
One of the issues raised by residents at both hearings was concern over the eagles’ nests in the area.
“We have active eagle nests and deer grazing — I want to make sure those things get factored in before equipment starts coming in and trees get taken down,” said Laura Burns at the 6:00 p.m. hearing. “I have a curiosity on whether it makes sense to populate an area of town that is in the tsunami evacuation zone.”
Venter addressed the question by explaining that “When it comes to birds’ nests and things like that there are very strict provincial rules that need to be followed, environmental studies and all of those things — nothing will happen by accident.”
He also added the company will work with geotechnical engineers and abide by provincial regulations regarding the tsunami zone.
Another concern raised at the later hearing was what kind of impact the increase in population density would have on the community.
“Some of my biggest concerns are how that will impact the rest of the community in that area,” said homeowner Justin Reusch. “It was always zoned as like structures, not a mini-community inside of a residential neighborhood.”
As the hearings came to a close close, the district noted they had received no written submissions regarding the rezoning.
“This is an information gathering time,” said Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood, “at our council meeting is when the regular council debate will happen to find out if we pass this bylaw or not.”
Heather Nelson Smith, Director of Corporate and Development Services, also explained that in order for the project to go through not only would rezoning have to be passed by council, but the company would also have to apply for a development permit, and a subdivision plan would also be required.
“There are a lot of steps yet,” said Bood. “We have community planning and bylaws, all of those have to be met in order for us to approve the subdivision.”
The rezoning bylaw will be heard for second reading at the next Port Hardy Council meeting on May 22.