I am troubled by the decision making process of both the Regional District of Nanaimo and the City of Parksville when looking at various redevelopment applications; specifically the application at the French Creek property next to the Shell station and the Parksville Post and Lantern application. I am not necessarily questioning the decisions themselves; rather the reasoning behind them.
In the case of the Post and Lantern; individual councilors cited a perceived lack of funding, experience and condition of the building. This was a land use decision and the question was whether or not we as a community wanted to convert a hotel property to residential use. During the initial phases of the application being discussed at the council table there was agreement that because this was an affordable housing project that the application should be fast tracked and there was general agreement around the table that it would be a good thing for our community. During the public hearing process there was support for the project. When the application was presented for final approvals it was denied; not because of a lack of support for affordable housing; not because there was an argument against converting commercial use to residential use; but because council believed that the developer didn’t have enough money or experience to complete the project and because one councilor believed the building was too far gone to be made habitable. These issues should be dealt with through the development permit and building permit applications, not during a land use discussion.
In the case of the French Creek application which included a Tim Horton’s drive through the reason given for denial was that it would increase greenhouse gas emissions as cars would be idling as they go through the drive-thru. If that were true, and I don’t believe it is, it may be a valid reason to seek changes to the building during the development permit or building permit stage but this is not a land use decision. In reality greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced as the excessive line-ups at the Tim Horton’s in Parksville would be reduced and the greenhouse gas emissions from people driving from Qualicum Beach and French Creek would be reduced through less time oin the road and in the line-ups of both locations. The RDN Board could have denied the application based on the opposition from the community but to bring in the specious greenhouse gas argument is wrong, especially when they refuse to lower the speed limit through San Pariel to allow small electric vehicles on the road that cannot maintain the 60kmh current speed.
Both of these decisions for different reasons indicate a flaw in the redevelopment process. Both properties in question are desperate for rebuilding as they are both well beyond their lifespan and the case of the Post and Lantern could be considered derelict. Both applications would have provided their communities with a needed service, the Post and Lantern with affordable housing and the French Creek property with a commercial upgrade that would have taken vehicles off the road. Both would have been a desired upgrade over the run down condition of their respective properties.
Parksville City Council and the RDN Board are fully within their mandate to turn applications down, however some relevance to land use reasons would be beneficial to all concerned.