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Prime spot sits idle for now
A collection of old houses on Hwy. 19A in Parksville are a good example of the city’s work balancing development issues, says mayor Chris Burger.
A lot of nearly five acres across from the Temple Store, a kilometre from downtown, is prime development property, Burger concedes.
“In my experience with properties like this, the owner is looking to develop,” he said of the fore sale property.
It is currently zoned single family residential, but the current official community plan (OCP) lists the best future use as multi-family residential.
An old application to build an apartment building has lapsed, said director of community planning Blaine Russell, at the owner’s choice.
“We’ve been saying for years that if development occurs along that stretch, we’d like to see the highway improved over time,” Burger said of that stretch of Hwy. 19A — one of the last in the city waiting to be expanded to five lanes (four plus a turn lane).
It’s a private property and whether development occurs is up to the owner.
“The city has some leverage to spark development,” Burger said of commercial tax rates, development cost charges and things like downtown improvement area rebates.
But he admits this leverage is limited.
When council receives an application for rezoning and/or an OCP amendment, it has some power to ask for additional infrastructure work and often makes developers responsible for the adjoining public sidewalk and street.
But every case is an individual negotiation and any re-zoning would be at council’s discretion, “dependant on public opinion,” said the mayor.
Burger wouldn’t prejudge any hypothetical future decisions on the properties across from the Temple Store, but he said it would be a logical place for something like an apartment building and less likely a site for an industrial or intense commercial use.
He said development issues can be quite different in the mid-Island region where “everyone wants to be and there’s always great investor interest.”
He said unlike some places that are always desperate to attract investors, Parksville’s approach is more about “carefully managing the growth.” The public response to development issues is generally about slow growth and balance with infrastructure needs, he added.