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Lantzville asks developer to address community concerns about large project

Many Lantzville residents told council that project is too big

Lantzville plans to approach the developer of the controversial proposed Village South project to discuss ways to make it more palatable to the community.

Longtime property owner Lantzville Projects Ltd. wants to build approximately 730 housing units on 23.3 hectares, including townhomes, single-family houses, multi-family units and possibly seniors supportive housing.

Some residents of the community just north of Nanaimo have criticized the development as too large and dense, and unsuited to the semi-rural community.

Last week, council voted unanimously to refer the project to staff to work with the developer to improve the plan and address community concerns.

Mayor Mark Swain called the development “probably the most important thing that we are going to be doing as a council.”

“It is definitely going to leave a legacy of this council that is forever going to change this community.”

Coun. Jamie Wilson, who made the motion to refer the project to staff, wants to see guaranteed zoning close to the village core for a seniors facility. He also favours a diverse mix of housing, saying it’s something the area desperately needs.

Wilson said he worries that if the project is not approved, another one will come forward in five to 10 years, with even more density. “The housing crisis at that time will only be worse.”

Aside from concerns about its size and density, criticisms of the proposed development include lack of guaranteed seniors housing and failure to follow the official community plan, which was developed in consultation with residents.

The majority of speakers at an April public hearing opposed the project.

The development, which also includes a commercial area, rain gardens, a pedestrian-friendly streetscape and trails, is large for Lantzville, which has 3,817 residents and 1,568 private homes, according to the latest census figures.

Coun. Karen Proctor said it does comply with the community plan in many ways. “It supports a vibrant village. There’s green space and pathways. The most important thing in my mind is that it supports the diversity of housing, which we don’t have in Lantzville right now.”

But with so much opposition to the current design, Proctor said she could not support it.

Concerns include whether local infrastructure and services — including water, schools, parking and policing — would be able to support a development of this size, and whether Lantzville would have to hire more staff and raise taxes, she said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com