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Northern Junk development decision expected next week

Councillors heard mixed views at a public hearing Thursday evening on a proposal to incorporate the Northern Junk warehouses near the Johnson Street Bridge into a new six-storey development.
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The Northern Junk buildings, also known as the Gold Rush warehouses, near the Johnson Street Bridge. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Councillors heard mixed views at a public hearing Thursday evening on a proposal to incorporate the Northern Junk warehouses near the Johnson Street Bridge into a new six-storey development.

Reliance Properties wants to rehabilitate the 1860s-era warehouses, which have been vacant for 43 years, and incorporate them into a mixed-use building with commercial space and 47 rental residential units, an internal alleyway and a waterfront walkway.

The hearing closed 11:30 p.m. after councillors heard from about 60 speakers who called in live and submitted pre-recorded statements and videos. Next Thursday evening, councillors are expected to ask questions of the developer and vote on whether to approve the proposal. No further input from the public will be received.

Several heritage advocates voiced their opposition to the plan to add five storeys on top of the two one-storey warehouses, among the city’s oldest buildings, while many neighbours of the building and local residents supported the proposal, saying it would bring life to a derelict site and improve safety in an area that has been neglected.

Harold Kalman, a professional consultant in heritage conservation and architectural history, asked councillors not to allow the historic buildings to be “crushed beneath inappropriate new development.”

Patricia Mamic, public and government affairs director for the Salvation Army, which is across from the warehouses, called the developer “community minded.”

“They have demonstrated significant commitment and corporate contributions and investments in the community supporting us all well beyond the bricks and mortar that we were speaking about here.”

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com