Tofino’s municipal council unanimously agreed to give their staff permission to proceed with a development application last week that would bring a roughly 100-unit neighbourhood to Tofino, though several councillors used the word ‘tentative’ to describe their vote.
Woodsmere Holdings Corporation is proposing a four-storey apartment building with an expected 50-54 units and 24 single family lots, each zoned for secondary suites at 825 Campbell Street.
The proposal is significantly smaller than the company’s original proposal for the site, which included 240 apartment units, 108 townhouses, 34 duplexes, 16 stand-alone single family homes and a 48-unit motel, that council denied in 2017.
“This zoning amendment would facilitate the creation of basically a new residential neighbourhood,” Tofino’s planner 1 Peter Thicke explained during Oct. 13’s regular council meeting. “So it’s a fairly significant consideration that would provide a lot of housing, but would also significantly increase the density of the area.”
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He said the project would also potentially fill a gap identified in Tofino’s housing needs assessment around home ownership.
“One of the things that this particular development may address, which does not come up too often here in Tofino, is home ownership units at the lower end of the market. Particularly the smaller single family dwelling lots would be designed to be more affordable than many of the existing options on the market,” he said.
He said the site would need to be landscaped and facilitate multiple modes of transportation, including an expansion of a pedestrian network, so that residents of the new neighbourhood would not need to “get in a car every single time they want to leave their house.”
Tofino’s director of infrastructure Fraser Work said staff is trying to get a handle on its water supply capacity and added that water infrastructure will be a key topic at the district’s upcoming budget discussions
“I think the essential question that we need to answer as a municipality is are we at, near or beyond our capacity to provide safe drinking water and firefighting flows within the community,” Work said.
Councillor Duncan McMaster raised concern around how long such a study would take, noting that several developments would be left in the lurch while the district tries to sort out how much capacity it has.
“These developments are coming at us fast and furious and I think we need to have an answer sooner than later,” he said.