A packed meeting room at the Harrison Beach Hotel was full of residents eagerly looking for answers on a proposed housing development on Lillooet Avenue.
Members of Saltus Developments and Station One Architects hosted an informal public information meeting to discuss the proposed six-storey mixed use project at 511 Lillooet Avenue, the former site of the Bungalow Motel.
The proposed building would contain 1,044 square metres of commercial space with room for 124 dwellings or condos with possibilities for short-term tourist accommodation. The current plans call for approximately 136 parking stalls, the bulk of which would be in a two-storey parkade structure. The proposal also includes a courtyard that is surrounded by the building on three sides as well as a top-floor common amenity area that would be opened to residents and visitors alike.
According to project architect Alvin Bartel, this public information meeting was an initial step in a long process before plans are finalized and construction begins.
The village council approved the first and second readings of the rezoning variances for the development during a special morning meeting on July 27.
Some residents had concerns about the environmental impact of proposed construction, specifically pointing out removing some of the trees on the property. The developers acknowledged that some trees would have to come down as they would likely not survive since construction would interfere with the roots. The developers indicated any trees taken would be replaced via the courtyard, the upper floor outdoor area and the boulevard. however, these trees would likely take some time before they grew to the size of those that were cut down.
Residents also asked about parking accommodations for boats and recreational vehicles, which would take up larger spaces than the traditional car parking stall. The developers noted there were a few tandem parking stalls planned that might accommodate a boat, trailer or larger vehicle. There are four accessible parking spaces planned.
Neighbouring property owners were worried about being encroached upon since the developer was asking for a larger-than-usual footprint. Additionally, the same property owners were concerned about fire safety and how the proximity of the building to neighbouring structures might spread fire more quickly. Developers said there is the possibility the courtyard could be shrunk to bring the building away from the property line. As far as fire safety, the designers indicated the building would not only be built of non-combustible materials but would be fitted with a sprinkler system. Statistically speaking, the developers added, buildings with working sprinkler systems do not burn.
A development permit application has been submitted to the village for their consideration; as of the date of the meeting, review comments from the village were not yet available to the developers. After comments are gathered from the Aug. 26 meeting, they will be presented to council as part of a public hearing before a development permit is either issued or denied. Everyone who attended was given a comment sheet to fill out and turn in.
The official public hearing is not yet scheduled.
The road ahead for the Lillooet development is still long. The earliest developers estimate basic construction can start – if everything goes according to plan – is next summer.
Overall, Bartel was pleased with the comments and questions.
“We are hearing some of the concerns we were expecting to hear, to be perfectly honest,” he said, particularly concerning the ongoing issue of parking.
The next regular Harrison Hot Springs village council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at Memorial Hall. The meeting will also be available online via Zoom and at a later date on the village’s YouTube page.