Language barrier hinders proposed ‘apartment hotel’

Published on February 22, 2023 by David Wylie

Rendering of hotelPhoto: Contributed
A rough outline of what a four-storey apartment hotel may look like.

A four-storey, 30-unit “apartment hotel” proposed around the corner from Turtle Bay Pub has hit a language snag.

District of Lake Country council gave the project’s rezoning application, from single-family residential to tourism commercial, first reading at its Tuesday evening meeting. However, they held back from giving it second reading—which would have propelled the project to the public hearing stage.

Instead, councillors directed staff to further define the use of apartment hotels in a tourist commercial zone.

As council got bogged down in the definition, Mayor Blair Ireland said he wanted to find a way forward.

“I don’t think anybody wants to punish this guy for doing what he wants to do,” says Ireland. “It’s just that it’s fraught with problems on how the language works. I don’t think that the plan right now deserves to get to second reading.”

The type of development that’s wanted

Lake Country senior planner Inonge Aliaga said the rezoning application at 11506 Turtle Bay Court is the first step in a longer process, that will eventually require a parking variance if it moves ahead.

Aliaga says it’s in an area the district has targeted for redevelopment in the Official Community Plan as tourist commercial.

“It’s the type of development the district has targeted as a priority for economic development in the community,” she says. “That change in the zone changes what can be developed on that property pretty dramatically.”

For example, it allows for amusement and arcades, hotels, and drive-in food services.

There’s already lots of development in the area at various stages, including townhouses and multi-family development to the south; another apartment hotel across the street; a seniors home to the north; a subdivision further north; and a subdivision just east.

Aliaga adds the services are not all there yet.

The district’s OCP says it’s willing to look at car share spaces and extra bicycle parking in exchange for reduced parking requirements.

Map Photo: Contributed
The location of a proposed apartment hotel.

Issues with parking, flooding

Aside from the definition of “apartment hotel,” some councillors struggled overall with the lack of parking and its location near a flood plain that needs updated mapping.

Coun. Cara Reed said the applicant sent a letter to neighbouring property owners notifying them of the project. The applicant asserted there would be more than enough parking for the bylaw, which is not the case.

“That’s what they’ve made their judgments on and whether to comment or not,” says Reed. “I think now that we’re hearing they’re going to need a variance, it’s disappointing because there’s a dissonance between those two pieces of information.”

Coun. Heather Irvine says those in the surrounding residential areas park their boat trailers on Seymour Road, and that parking is going to become an issue.

“It’s a slippery slope for me. I think the road is grossly inadequate even with the change coming. It’s going to be such a bottleneck,” she says.

The mayor sent mixed messages about his overall support, at one point calling the plan “pretty reasonable” and at another saying he’d prefer either an apartment or a hotel.

“I’m not so sure that I love the idea of an apartment hotel; it’s not my choice,” says Ireland.

Lone voice of support

Coun. Michael Lewis was the lone voice of undivided support for the project. He says in this case a developer brought forward a project that matches the land’s envisioned use.

“My two cents when I look at this, I think we have an OCP that has clear guides of where we want to go as a community and we spent a lot of time on this OCP.”