Councillor Charlie Hodge was the only one at the May 2 regular meeting to vote against proposed changes to a multi-building development on the old Hiawatha RV Park site.
Edmonton-based Westcorp is looking for permission to raise two of its planned condo buildings from 11 to 17 storeys. Current zoning for the site allows a maximum of 11 storeys.
Hodge pointed out the property has been the centre of debate for several years and the development has changed many times.
“I think this is really death by a thousand cuts in a lot of ways in my mind,” he said.
Hodge added that council has heard over and over from the public about what was desired for the site.
“Promises made. I’m just very concerned with what’s going to happen with it from here on if this goes through.”
Mayor Colin Basran disagreed with those comments.
“In my recollection, this hasn’t come back for many changes,” said Basran. “I believe we approved it and my disappointment has been it hasn’t come to fruition but it’s only been to council once. This notion that there have been multiple public hearings and multiple changes, there actually, in fact, haven’t been.”
All of council, including Hodge, supported the proposed height change being sent to a public hearing.
Council was also surprised to learn from city staff that, currently, the entire development will be rental units. Councillor Loyal Wooldridge asked if short-term rentals would be allowed, and was told by staff that none were proposed. Councillor Gail Given noted that under current zoning hotels are allowed and that Westcorp’s original proposal did include one, which could allow short-term rentals.
“If in fact, they’re not going to be part of the site that would be something for staff and the applicant to work out. In my mind I read that as short-term rentals are allowed,” she said.