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Council sweetens deal to revitalize Ladner waterfront
Council gave first, second, and third readings to a bylaw that aims to encourage accelerated private sector investment in Ladner’s waterfront area.
Eligible projects—defined as a mixed use or commercial building with a construction value of $5 million or more—could qualify for a municipal property tax freeze for three years, a reduction of development cost charges (DCCs) between 50 and 70 per cent, and the waiving of building application and permit fees.
Other eligible projects would include historical buildings being preserved or refurbished, and the conversion of a purely commercial building to one that is mixed use.
Those projects meeting the definition of “low environmental impact” would also qualify for reduced DCCs.
Council would still have to approve these incentives on a case by case basis.
Council also gave first and second readings to an amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP) that would clarify the vision for the waterfront and guide new development in the area.
Perhaps most controversial among the changes are proposed building heights to 2.5 stories along the waterfront from the current height of two stories, and up to four stories in height on the south side of Chisholm Street from the current two.
Coun. Jeannie Kanakos said that a public information session held in early March clearly demonstrated public opposition to increased building heights on the waterfront.
But staff said they have consulted with the Advisory Design Panel, the Community Planning Advisory Committee, and the Heritage Advisory Commission and will not recommend changes to the building heights prior to a public hearing.
Coun. Scott Hamilton said he’s heard comparisons made between Ladner’s waterfront plan and La Conner, Wash., which features two-storey buildings on their waterfront. But Hamilton said La Conner was built a long time ago and “times have changed.”
“I’ve heard it again and again from the development community, that they’re not going to give serious consideration to any development on the waterfront on that side of Chisholm Street…unless it’s going to be economically feasible for them to do that.”
The OCP change will also implement policies that focus on sustainable design, pedestrian waterfront access, the expression of Ladner’s cultural character, among others.
The bylaw will now be scheduled for an upcoming public hearing.