James Van Hemert describes the way a development permit for a new gas station in Lake Cowichan is coming along. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)

VIDEO: New gas station’s development permit passes first hurdle at Lake Cowichan council table

It’s taking time to get it all right but the application is moving: planner Van Hemert

A request for a development permit to build a new gas station and convenience store at the corner of Cowichan Lake and Neva roads is moving slowly forward.

The application received first and second reading at Lake Cowichan town council on April 23.

In order for the permit to go through, the developer must buy, at market value, a piece of town land at the corner that he needs for the station. It is now part of the Home Centre parking lot. No construction can start until that market value sale and transfer are completed.

In addition, “landscape surety of $8,634” is to be held for two years, sidewalk, curb, and asphalt reinstatement will be required.

Also, the development is not to be considered a building permit or sign permit.

Town planner James Van Hemert spoke about the property and the application at the April 23 council meeting, saying, “It’s the portion closest to the corner. It will be in front. You can’t see it, it’s not clear, but part of that asphalt parking lot is actually owned by the town and in order to accommodate a service station on it, a purchase of land is required.

“It’s taken a little bit of time to sort out exactly how much land was needed but what is being proposed now, I think, is something that is consistent with development permit guidelines for corner character. So, what you will see in your package [are] renderings of the canopy, and the use of wood that is consistent with our guidelines for the use of natural materials.

“It’s actually quite an attractive design in my opinion. It has taken some work to get it to that point because an applicant doesn’t always completely understand what’s expected. I can say they’ve been positively responsive.

“Because we updated our parking regulations a few years ago, they are more modern and progressive. This place in particular doesn’t need over-parking. There’s a small area of additional parking, and there’ll be new landscaping.

“There were some issues, as you may know, about how a fuel truck can access the site. Modern fuel trucks are enormous. The [idea] now is to allow a single tank fuel truck for turning safely. We’ve had the applicant produce some turning-movement drawings. We’ve seen quite a few of those. And the idea was also to protect our residential streets because we have bylaws about the size of trucks,” Van Hemert said, adding it was time to move forward.

“At this point, I think it’s a mature application. A variance is no longer needed because of the land purchase and it’s in good shape. The superintendent of public works is satisfied with it as well.”

Tim McGonigle moved approval of the permit, but asked about the canopy.

“It’s not lit in any way?”

Van Hemert replied, “Some service station canopies are lit all around and it’s bright. In my opinion the way we have crafted our sign bylaw so that that becomes a sign and also is not particularly attractive to have that much light, especially…at entry to the town. The point is that it will be a sign and the blue band is simply that. It’s not part of the sign. And I should let you know that throughout the process they initially had a lot more blue on the canopy. They agreed to scale that back. There’s just more use of wood and the sign is more compact. What that means is that you can’t have a blue, backlit band all around this canopy. I thought: the town should be in charge and decide whether that should be backlit.”

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