Neighbours query new apartment driveway

A three-story, 12-unit apartment building has been proposed for the corner of Canada Avenue and Philip Street in North Cowichan

A three-story, 12-unit apartment building has been proposed for the corner of Canada Avenue and Philip Street in North Cowichan and neighbours like the idea — well, most of it.

“[It’s a] beautiful building if it looks like that in the end,” Philip Street resident Karen Chaster said. “All in all I’m just really not sure about the entrance.”

She explained that the driveway to the new building is set to open onto Philip Street. She and other neighbours worry for safety as there’s a substantial hill on that road and visibility is already limited. They worry about the increased amount of traffic and increased density building would bring.

“I think adding 12, at a minimum, owners trying to get in and out of that location is going to be a problem,” she said. “It’s just a big concern and I just wanted to make sure you’re hearing us on that. You’re going to do what you’re going to do,” she told council. “We get that, but I wanted you to hear our two cents.”

Long-time Philip Street resident Wilfred Annala complimented the structure’s design but had similar hesitations to Chaster.

“Wow that is a beautiful building. I’m impressed. However my concern at that part of Philip Street…I really feel that the driveway entrance to this building should be on Canada Avenue. It is just going to be a real public safety item as far as I’m concerned. I’m not against the building, I’m mainly against the entrance.”

Engineer Dave Conway explained to council the staff’s investigation shows them an entryway onto Philip Street would be more practical than coming and going from Canada Avenue.

“Canada Ave is an arterial road and our preference would be to reduce access points onto it. The current access is already on Philip Street,” Conway said. “On balance Philip Street is a better location in our opinion. If we’re going to have some congestion the preference would be to have it [on Philip].”

A single family dwelling currently sits on the 980-square-metre lot. The new structure would feature two stories of living space atop a 17-vehicle parking lot in the front, and because it would be built into the side of a hill, the back portion of the building would appear to be just two stories high, but would technically be three stories.

“Basically we wanted to be sensitive to the height of the neighbourhood,” architect Daryoush Firouzli said.

North Cowichan council held a public hearing and then read for a third time, Wednesday, a zoning amendment application that would allow for zoning change and permit the development to progress.

The property lies within the South End/University Village growth centre and so the change is in keeping with the long-term vision of the area.