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A 72-room hotel planned on Diver Lake in Nanaimo

A planned 72-room hotel at Nanaimo’s Diver Lake would help alleviate a shortage of newer hotel rooms, a tourism consultant said Thursday. “I would say it’s great news for Nanaimo.
TC_375270_web_3679Shenton-Road-1.jpg
An artist’s rendering of proposed hotel at 3679 Shenton Road in ­Nanaimo. IAN A. NIAMATH ARCHITECT

A planned 72-room hotel at Nanaimo’s Diver Lake would help alleviate a shortage of newer hotel rooms, a tourism consultant said Thursday.

“I would say it’s great news for Nanaimo. With recovery from COVID, room inventory is going to become critical and particularly newer hotels — Nanaimo has not had many new hotels built for many years,” said Frank Bourree, a consultant who has studied tourism statistics in Nanaimo for more than 30 years.

“There are a lot of older ­properties that are just tired and need upgrading,” he said.

Plans for a new hotel is also great news for Vancouver Island’s tourism sector to see a property owner willing to step up and invest in a hotel, he said.

A rezoning proposal for the hotel site at 3679 Shenton Rd. on the north side of the lake was supported by Nanaimo council after a public hearing.

The project still needs additional approvals from the city.

It would be constructed on a 1.1-acre long narrow lot running from Shenton Road towards the water, dropping in elevation about seven metres as it leads to the marsh-type lakefront. The land is south of Island Highway North near Bowen Road.

A single family house, not currently occupied, would be taken down to allow for the hotel.

Plans call for a building standing three storeys on Shenton and four storeys on the lakeside, where underground parking would be constructed.

The developer would be required to put in approximately $136,000 as a community amenity contribution. Also required is a statutory right-of-way registered on the property’s title to allow for public access for a future lakeside trail crossing the property.

It is too soon to say when ­construction might begin, said Bill McKay, of Bill McKay and Associates, who represents developer Western LL Holdings Ltd. of Nanaimo. The company also owns the Harbour Light Motel at 200 Nicol St. in Nanaimo.

The owner is planning to operate it as a independent hotel, McKay said. Its market would include families, sports teams and trades workers coming to the city.

Western LL Holdings bought the land in 2019 with the goal of building a hotel, McKay said.

The owner earlier looked at a number of Nanaimo sites with the idea of building a small- to medium-sized hotel, but could not find something in a desirable tourist area and with reasonably priced parking, said McKay, who also pointed out the shortage of hotel rooms.

“We have seen in Nanaimo the difficulty with a number of hotels not being able to accommodate parking on their properties either due to size limitations or geotechnical issues,” he said.

McKay, a former Nanaimo mayor, noted that in 2011, the city wanted to encourage hotel development and approved a tax bylaw allowing for a 10-year tax exemption for new hotels and for properties which had been substantially renovated.

Among new projects, a 45-room Quality Inn on Selby St. has opened and the 172-room Marriott Courtyard on Gordon Street is under construction.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com