Council freezes development in the commercial core 

Crystal Lodge renovations will go ahead

Council has approved major renovations to the Crystal Lodge despite putting a temporary freeze on development in the commercial core zone.

The freeze in the CC1 zone, which encompasses most of the original village south of Village Gate Boulevard, is designed to allow the municipality to develop new policy to control development in the village.

"(We’re) not looking to freeze the village in place, merely to collect our wits," reassured Councillor Gordon McKeever.

Each building in the CC1, with some special exemptions for projects currently underway, like the Crystal Lodge, will now remain at their current floor area until a new policy is developed. Before Monday’s meeting each building had the potential to expand its gross floor area (GFA) to 3.5 square metres per square metre of the property parcel area. Currently most buildings in the CC1 zone are not at their maximum permitted gross floor area.

Reexamining the CC1 is a task that has been long awaited by some councillors.

"We can see the potential impacts of not taking any direction in this area," said Councillor Ken Melamed who was one of the first councillors to raise the issue in 1997. At that time council was not prepared to review the CC1 zone.

"If we do nothing about the CC1 there is the potential to add a significant number of bed units in the commercial core," he said.

Councillor Caroline Lamont said developing new CC1 policy was not so much about capping bed units, rather it was a way to figure out a growth management strategy for the commercial core.

She added that one broad policy would level the playing field for everyone in the commercial core, rather than allowing projects to be approved on a case by case basis.

"The one thing the policy does is provide certainty for both sides of the table," she said.

Councillor Kristi Wells however was not convinced that freezing development in the CC1 would be fair, especially for property owners who have been in the commercial core for a long time, banking on their ability to develop further.

Putting herself in the position of a longtime property owner in the CC1 Wells said they had development rights that were established with the original CC1 zoning.

"People make long range plans... all based on this existing (zoning)," she said.

"To freeze the densities I find very challenging."

Wells added that council is asking landowners to reinvest in their property with the Village Enhancement Strategy but at the same time council is taking away the tools to help with that investment. She said increasing density is an incentive for reinvestment.

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