Concerns of “commercial creep” into lower Uphill were raised Tuesday night at City Hall.
At its regular meeting, council changed the Official Community Plan to accommodate the conversion of St. Saviour’s Hall into a veterinary clinic, theatre, office, assembly use and residential units. During the discussion, councillor Donna Macdonald told her colleagues the amendment encourages commercial creep.
The veteran councillor supports the amendment overall, but said council needs to be conscious of what precedent it’s setting.
“The Official Community Plan doesn’t support retail, commercial and offices sliding up the hill,” she said.
“Council has been disciplined about keeping commercial development from creeping out of downtown.”
City manager, Kevin Cormack said he agrees with Macdonald that they want to limit this kind of development.
Cormack said city staff has looked at how many buildings in Nelson are like St. Saviour’s Hall, and there are only a few.
The applicant held a public meeting in early August and many of those who attended brought up similar concerns to those addressed by council.
Parking, which is a issue throughout Nelson, was brought up both at Tuesday’s council meeting and at the public meeting.
“It’s difficult because I like the plan as it is, but I have to look into the future,” said Macdonald.
At the public hearing the applicant, Theresa Hart of Cottonwood Falls Animal Clinic, who has offered to buy the building from the Anglican diocese, said with regards to staff parking “Three of us live close and will walk. The fourth will park at my house and walk from there.”
But more parking questions arose surrounding the potential for residential development in the hall.
At the public hearing Hart said “Ultimately I believe there will be a decrease in the parking demands because the traffic will be less than the [existing] school. I will advocate for increased policing of the two hour time limit. There will be no overnight parking.”
David Wahn, manager of development services and sustainability and approving officer, said “no matter what we do in this instance parking is a problem.”
Hart said at the council meeting there may be an opportunity for off-street parking, but she would have to discuss with city whether it’s possible to convert the space to parking.
Cormack said the city is promoting live/work situations and that’s what they looked at with St. Saviour’s Hall.
A public hearing will be scheduled before the bylaw amendments are passed.