North Cowichan council unanimously gave third reading to a comprehensive residential development on 3.94 acres of land on the corner of Drinkwater Road and Ford Road at its meeting on Sept. 21 after a public hearing was held on the project.
If the proposal by Victoria-based Woodsmere Holdings gets its fourth and final reading at a future council meeting, as is expected, it would see three apartment buildings built at the site, one of which would be five storeys and two would be four storeys and, altogether, 262 new apartment units would be constructed.
Earlier this month, council gave the third reading to another large high-density housing project proposed for nearby Paddle Road.
Kerkhoff Construction is proposing its development be built on 5.4 acres of land at the north end of Paddle Road, and it would include four multi-storey apartment buildings, three of which would be six storeys while the fourth one would be five storeys, totalling 366 apartment units.
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Concerns had been raised by some neighbours of Woodsmere Holdings’ project about the increased traffic it would bring to the already busy area.
Mayor Al Siebring asked if any traffic studies had been done for the area in relation to the new housing units.
A spokesman with Woodsmere Holdings said a traffic analysis and a parking study were completed and he doesn’t believe anything was highlighted as a concern.
Caroline von Schilling, a development planner with North Cowichan, said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also signed off on the project, but did indicate that the nearby intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Drinkwater Road would have to be reconfigured in the future to better deal with the increased growth in the area.
Coun. Rob Douglas didn’t vote for the project to go to a public hearing at a council meeting in August largely because it didn’t include a commitment for any affordable housing.
But he said the fact that Woodsmere Holdings had since committed to setting aside 10 per cent of the apartment units at 30 per cent of the medium renters’ income for the area has changed his mind.
“As well, the proposal is for 100 per cent of the units to be rental, with 50 per cent of them secured in a restricted covenant,” Douglas said.
“There’s a housing crisis going on with rental vacancies in the Cowichan region now below one per cent. We’re in desperate need for more rental housing and I’ll support this project.”