Ladysmith Town Council has completed first and second readings of proposed zoning and official community plan amendments to support a major housing development on the town’s northern edge.
A concept plan presented to council at a February 1 meeting shows 282 housing units on the 4.7-hectare site at 1301-1391 Rocky Creek Rd. There is a proposed mix of single-family homes, apartments and of row houses. The plan also shows 1,650 square meters of commercial space, divided between three buildings.
Changes will require a public hearing before the board approves, clarifies or rejects the application.
“There’s a lot of ground to cover, water to get under the bridge before it goes into open court,” Mayor Aaron Stone said. “So it may be a while before we get to the next step in this process and that’s really the most critical step.”
The proposal includes 20-24 single-family housing plots, seven apartment buildings of up to six stories (234-242 units in total), and 20-24 townhouses. Townhouses are suggested to be near the waterfront, while apartments should be near Rocky Creek Road. Single-family housing plots would occupy the space between the two.
“Ladysmith is considered a beach town – we like to think of it as a beach town – and yet so few have the ability for people to actually live next to water,” Coun said. Tricia McKay, who endorsed the nomination.
Toby Seward and Frank Crucil provided delegation to the board regarding the request and answered questions.
“It’s unusual for a property like this to have all types of housing forms, but we think it’s very appropriate for this site,” Seward said.
He said the plans included a buffer of trees between the development and neighbors and said many of the concerns raised by the neighborhood during briefings in July and September have been resolved.
Crucil said the property was purchased from the Oak Bay Marine Group about two and a half years ago. The majority of the property was previously used as a campground/mobile home park which closed in 2011 and the site is now vacant.
“We are all aware of the severe housing shortage and have read housing reports. It is not our intention to build this project all at once, but with a staged building of at least one apartment building immediately,” Crucil said. “My definition of immediate is certainly different [from] the bureaucratic process that we follow. However, I am open to a number of simultaneous steps that can be done together, rather than consecutively, and would welcome a positive relationship with the city.
A housing needs report predicted a need for 510 additional units in Ladysmith by 2025, including 384 one-bedroom houses.
Crucil said the pandemic has pushed people to work from home and impacted the growth of island communities.
“We are seeing from our recent Davis Road subdivisions that many people are moving to the island in Ladysmith and bringing their jobs with them, creating additional economic growth in our area that some may or may not see,” did he declare.
The tallest buildings would be on the Rocky Creek Road frontage and the development would slope down to the water. Seward said the apartments will likely be a combination of four- to six-story buildings.
It is not yet known how many units will be rentals. “We need some flexibility here because we don’t have a detailed design of how these buildings are going to shape up,” Crucil said.
The existing zoning on the property allows for 75 single-family dwelling units. The applicant has agreed to provide the city with $1,000 per unit above the existing zoning as a contribution to community amenities.
Council directed city staff to refer the application to Stz’uminus First Nation and the province’s archeology branch before scheduling a public hearing. The city will require the applicant to provide a park assignment, but the location of the park is not yet determined.
The first and second readings are adopted unanimously.
“Every morning I think about how grateful I am to be born in Ladysmith and my grandfather left Italy for the best country in the world and the best place in the world,” Crucil said. “I think sometimes we take that for granted and it opens up opportunities for people to live here as well.”