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Changes to ‘controversial’ Birch Street apartment complex on hold

A controversial Campbell River apartment complex is on hold as the city looks to address the possible future effect on the neighbourhood.

Coun. Claire Moglove asked last week to defer a decision on changing the building density for 741 Birch Street until the city could talk to the developer about building a sidewalk and providing money for traffic calming measures.

Crown Pacific Development Corp. has asked the city to change the density calculation, which would mean the complex with micro, suite, one- and two-bedroom apartments would be six storeys. The original 2007 plan called for a four-storey building.

Many in the neighbourhood, who showed up at last week’s council meeting, are strongly against the plan, saying it will block their views of Discovery Passage and Quadra Island, make their homes less private and the narrow street unsafe with more traffic.

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City staff say there are already 13 apartment buildings, three to six storeys high, within a 400 meters (1,300 feet) of the subject property.

Many on council didn’t address the density change request, instead looking at whether the developer would still be open to options for a sidewalk and giving money to address traffic.

But Coun. Kermit Dahl did. “The controversy is about density and I don’t see what a sidewalk or curbs or gutters or traffic circle or traffic calming, what difference that’s going to make about density. That’s what the neighbourhood was against was the density of the building and that’s the only thing we have to discuss.”

On the flip side, Coun. Ron Kerr said the community needs more housing units and asking the developer for more was penalizing them.

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Coun. Sean Smyth said the “battle was lost in 2007” as far as the development and, given the housing market, council would be approving more dwellings not less.

Mayor Andy Adams recognized the “passion of the neighbourhood” and it was “not going unnoticed.”

The deferral passed with Couns. Kermit Dahl and Ron Kerr the only ones to vote against it.

The issue will come back to city council this month.

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