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Sooke’s density bonus program being tweaked

Bylaw change aims to increase underground parking, housing options
The District of Sooke hopes a zoning bylaw amendment will encourage developers to build underground parking. (File - Sooke News Mirror)

The District of Sooke hopes a bylaw amendment will make underground garage parking more attractive to developers and increase density in the town core.

Under the district’s zoning bylaws, developers can get more units in their building if 80 per cent or more of the onsite parking spaces are provided underground or otherwise concealed within the structure.

But Matthew Pawlow, the district’s director of planning and development, said providing additional height and increased lot coverage does not necessarily help “incentivize a developer.”

For developers, the maximum density of allowable units does not change from what is in the zone, and many of the town centre zones already allow for generous heights.

Staff recommends reinstating an additional 10 units per hectare for increased underground parking. The height may be increased by one storey and the lot coverage by five per cent.

The same bonus density package was part of the zoning bylaw in 2006 but was repealed in 2013.

“Doing this will allow more units of various sizes, increase the affordability of the units and provide a greater incentive for underground and concealed parking,” Pawlow said.

Coun. Tony St-Pierre said the district should be encouraging density and limiting urban sprawl.

“This is not something we’re doing to help developers,” he said. “We actually want density to help us reach our climate goals.”

Parking that is hidden tends to foster a more aesthetically pleasing above-ground look and feel, leaving more room for green space while limiting stormwater runoff, heat islanding and car noise, a staff report to council stated.

Couns. Jeff Bateman and Al Beddows agreed that Sooke would see an increasing amount of cars over the next decade. Limiting their impact will be necessary.

“Unfortunately, we’re still going to need cars and hopefully, we can park them underground,” Beddows said.

The district will scheduled a public hearing for the bylaw amendment soon.

ALSO READ: Bylaw change could hold key to building permit backlog

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

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