Council has passed the first two readings of an amendment to allow construction of a highrise and commercial building on Bill Murray Drive.

Council has passed the first two readings of an amendment to allow construction of a highrise and commercial building on Bill Murray Drive.

Bill Murray highrise passes first two readings

Prince Rupert city council has passed first and second readings of a bylaw amendment paving the way for a highrise condo

Prince Rupert city council has passed first and second readings of a bylaw amendment paving the way for the construction of a highrise condo on Bill Murray Drive.

Proposed Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 3377, 2015 is the first step in SwissReal Group’s efforts to build the highrise, as well as a commercial building at the corner of Bill Murray Drive and Stiles Place.

The zoning amendment can be described as ‘spot zoning’, to enable the height restrictions to move from its existing 16 metres (or four storeys) to 29 metres (or eight storeys).

“The primary difference between [the old zoning bylaw and the new one] is whereas in the original bylaw, the height increase was for all of the areas in [the B zone of the agenda’s Attachment C, which includes the majority of Third Avenue, First Avenue and Stiles Place], the new bylaw essentially creates a new zone for only the area that is proposed to be developed,” said city planner Zeno Krekic.

“So this would be essentially what you’d refer to as spot zoning.”

A new Downtown Highrise Zone (labelled C6) would form the new zone that SwissReal Group’s development would comprise. C6 is a new classification for that area and includes permitted uses such as retail use, personal service establishment, office, entertainment centre, theatre, multiple family dwelling and assembly hall.

The maximum floor area ratio for multiple family dwellings is 3.0 metres and the maximum building height in this new C6 zone is 35 metres, with a 4.5 metre building setback from any residential use.

A Sept. 15 public hearing was scheduled earlier this year and SwissReal Group’s Jeremy Towning provided Krekic with the results from that evening. As Towning describes it, the group was “taken aback with the amount of positive input from the locals in Prince Rupert”.

Councillor Blair Mirau asked Krekic to clarify the traffic analysis that was completed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and asked if the higher density would result in any disruptions in the area.

Julie Cooke, a district development technician for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – Skeena District, wrote in her report: “Our traffic engineers have reviewed the SwissReal traffic analysis and the report is acceptable in relation to traffic generation – generated traffic wouldn’t warrant a detailed traffic impact study”. Cooke also requested parking clarifications in concert with the type of commercial development being built.

“In terms of traffic, [the ministry] is satisfied with the existing streets and it can accomodate a new development without major disruption,” Krekic said

Coun. Gurvinder Randhawa asked about potential noise concerns to which Krekic responded that in this instance and at this stage it would be hard to assess and regulate.

“Spot zoning is superior to blanket zoning in this case, in my opinion,” added Mirau.

“I would like to take this to public hearing and make our decision from there.”

The public hearing will be set for the Dec. 7 city council meeting at 7 p.m.