A large high-density housing project proposed for Paddle Road was unanimously given second and third readings by North Cowichan council after a public hearing on Sept. 7.
The project is expected to receive the fourth and final reading after some technical issues are sorted out with the Ministry of Transpiration and Infrastructure.
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.
The proposal also calls for eight townhouses and five duplexes with 10 housing units in them to be constructed at the site.
At a council meeting in May, some councillors took issue with the fact that Kerkhoff was offering little in the way of an affordable housing component for their project other than setting aside 35 units as rentals that would be rented at below market value.
Coun. Rob Douglas also raised concerns that the developer was not giving any indications in what phases of the five-phase project the rental units would be provided, and that no minimum size of the units was set.
Staff were directed to negotiate with Kerkhoff on these issues before consideration would be given to giving the project its second and third readings.
After the negotiations, Kerkhoff agreed to provide 37 non-market rental units, with 28 of them at 10 per cent below market rental rates and nine at 30 per cent of medium income, which is consistent with inclusionary housing policies in other B.C. municipalities.
The developer also agreed to provide 50 per cent of the rental units in the first three phases of the development, and floor spaces in the units are to be no less than 350-square feet.
At the near-empty public hearing on the development, Douglas said that when the project was first proposed, there was a lot to like about it considering the need to increase the supply of multi-family housing in North Cowichan.
He said the proposal also included significant amenity contributions, including a $1.2-million contribution to a new park and a high level of energy efficiencies.
However, Douglas pointed out that the one challenge noted by council was that its affordable housing component was insufficient.
“With the housing crisis being felt all across Canada, many municipalities are requiring major developments to have a minimum percentage of units that local people can actually afford,” he said.
“This won’t solve the housing crisis, but it will help increase the supply of truly affordable housing [in North Cowichan]. I thank council for supporting my motion and the developers for their willingness to work with North Cowichan.”
A public hearing will be held on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. for another major housing project that is proposed to be built on the corner of Drinkwater Road and Ford Road, just a short distance away from Kerkhoff’s project.
Woodsmere Holdings is proposing a comprehensive residential development on 3.94 acres of land that would see three apartment buildings, one of which would be five storeys and two four storeys and, altogether, 262 new apartment units would be constructed, with approximately 135 of them dedicated to rental housing.