After turning out in masses at city council meetings, sending letters and signing petitions, some neighbours concerned about future development at Nelson Landing seem to have accepted council’s ruling on the issue.
At a special meeting March 24, council approved variances the developer requested — including those to narrow the road and waterfront pathway through the property — with some new conditions attached. A covenant was placed on the property to allow the city to require that a sidewalk be added later and five additional parking spaces were added to make up for a lack of street parking.
Barry Auliffe, who owns a townhouse in The Graine, told 103.5 The Bridge following the decision that he was satisfied council listened to the points raised by the public about safety and public access to the area — though councillors didn’t necessarily agree with all of their concerns.
“They listened to us … but they weren’t convinced by what we brought forward,” Auliffe said, noting he still has concerns about how narrow the road will be and the risk to pedestrians who will have to walk on the street until sidewalks are installed.
He also noted the irony of the city having just updated its development bylaws, only to let this project through with so many variances.
“I had high hopes for the development [at Nelson Landing] particularly because of the new bylaws that related to setbacks and percentage of land that could be covered,” Auliffe said. “I was disappointed that, for one of the first developments under those bylaws, they were being ignored.”
Another neighbour, Anna Purcell, believes the city should have higher standards for what happens on waterfront land.
“How we develop our waterfront will shape the character of Nelson in the years to come, and now is not the time to be underachievers,” Purcell wrote in an email.
“Reserving the right to require sidewalks later is better than nothing, but nothing was said against the proposed narrowing of the public path. Generous public access to the water that is inviting, environmentally creative, and leads to free, pubic, varied use of the lakefront is important.
“The waterfront should feel like public space that a few private individuals are lucky enough to live next to, not private land with a small path that the public can scurry along if it wants to.”
Yet both Purcell and Auliffe said they understand city council is weighing multiple priorities and can’t please everyone. Residents in the area knew when they moved there that the waterfront land would eventually have homes built on it and, throughout the process, many said they weren’t opposed to the development in general.
The variances granted by council relate only to the first phase of the project, a single eight-plex townhouse block, and eventually the developer will have to come back to council to have the full property rezoned to continue build what could eventually grow to include more than more than 200 residences and multi-use buildings.
Pre-sales begin on Nelson Landing eightplex
With council’s approval of zoning variances requested at Nelson Landing, the developer is ready to start pre-selling units in the first eightplex set to be built on the waterfront property.
Storm Mountain Development Corporation CEO Allard Ockeleon told 103.5 The Bridge the construction timeline on the first building depends on how fast units sell. Ideally, six of the eight homes will be sold for before his crews break ground on the building. He expects that to happen within the year.
If sales are strong, there’s a possibility of building a second eightplex next to the first.
While waiting for homes to sell, Ockeleon said his company will be planning its rezoning application for the site. He said there will be opportunity for public input throughout that process.
“Rezonings are very much a public process, so you’ll see a lot of open houses and engagement with the public to make sure we build what’s desirable for the community,” Ockeleon said. “We’ll remain committed to our first principals — the dedication of the park and the beach, making the waterfront public and providing public roads — then ask for the ability to build our development within that frame, so that we are able to give those amenities to the public.”
Ockeleon said he hadn’t anticipated a public outcry surrounding the variances for the eightplex, because no rezoning was being requested. But he’s fine with the compromise the city came up with to address public concerns around sidewalks and parking, and is optimistic about the project moving forward.