Public gets first look at new Boot Pub site proposal 

Council moves project forward to open house despite concerns

Despite some misgivings about the new development proposal for the Boot Pub land, council has given the nod to take the plans public.

Cressey Development Limited, the Vancouver based company which owns the six-acre site, home to the Boot Pub and Shoestring Lodge, is proposing to build a high-density residential development. It will have 36 market townhomes and 36 employee housing townhomes. There will also be a commercial component with a new pub, a cold beer and wine store and a small inn.

In addition to building the housing, Cressey also plans to upgrade the Nancy Greene Bridge to withstand flooding and debris flows. A new bridge would help mitigate the impacts of potential flooding on the site, which is located in the Fitzsimmons Creek flood plain.

But Councillor Nick Davies said he was having a tough time with the proposal. He asked himself: "If it weren't for the employee housing component how would I react to this?"

Chief among his concerns was the requirement of raising the dyke roughly three feet on the east side of Fitzsimmons Creek, which will ultimately impact residents in Spruce Grove. Though it's a necessity because the development is going in the flood plain, Davies worried about how it would affect the neighbours.

Other councillors raised different issues.

Though he was pleased to see all the parking for the development moved to an underground parkade, Councillor Ken Melamed did not like the idea that some of the housing would encroach on the highway setback.

There should be a 20 metre buffer from the highway but the development as proposed would fall into the setback. That section of highway he said is already quite compromised.

He also took exception to Cressey's request that they build the employee housing at $175 per square foot, rather than $155 per square foot as originally negotiated.

Cressey was supposed to provide the employee housing a long time ago reminded Melamed, as part of its Westin Resort & Spa development. They have an outstanding obligation to build 126 bed units, the lack of which he said has been a huge disappointment to the municipality.

Melamed said Cressey should provide the employee housing at the original price, rather than the updated benchmark price council only recently approved.

"I don't think they should be rewarded in any way, shape or form for waiting this long," said Melamed.

He was also passionate and adamant that the development should not encroach on the wetlands located on the east side of Blackcomb Way, opposite the Boot Pub site.

Cressey plans to realign the road there to accommodate the development but Melamed said he was not prepared to lose that "magnificent" wetland area which was fought for almost a decade ago.

One other outstanding issue council is struggling with is the leftover bed units on the site. The developer would be using only 156 bed units of a potential 206 bed units associated with the site. They want to keep those bed units and transfer them to another site for future development, but council and staff are hesitant to approve that.

There is no policy for doing that and traditionally unused bed units either revert back to the municipality or are extinguished.

Despite these concerns and others, council agreed to move forward in the application process and take the plans to a public open house. The date has not yet been fixed.

There will be detailed drawings of the proposed changes to the dykes at the open house.

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