Delta council has opted to wait for more information before giving further consideration to a redevelopment application for the former Southpointe Academy site.
About 40 people attended a public hearing Tuesday at municipal hall to hear submissions on the Century Group project called Northgate, slated for the corner of 56th Street and 18th Avenue near the entrance of Tsawwassen.
The proposed layout includes 41 stacked townhouses - 23 two-level units and 18 one-level units - a six-storey commercial office building, and 64-unit seniors' rental congregate housing. Council was told the office building would be essentially one storey higher than the Southpointe Academy building with "stepped design" proposed for the fifth and sixth storeys.
The owner has also applied for a development variance permit for the neighbouring Coast Tsawwassen Inn on 56th Street to build a service bridge connection between the hotel and the proposed seniors' congregate housing building.
The seniors' building includes a communal dining area and kitchen, social and recreational areas and would provide residents with meals if desired, as well as laundry services and a range of programs. That facility would require that at least one resident of each unit to be at least 60 years old.
According to Century Group, the site's development includes a number of innovations such as rainwater infiltration, a green roof feature on the office building and urban agriculture features for both the seniors' and townhome residents.
The development also includes an inner courtyard, some ground level parking with the bulk of the spaces going underground.
Making a presentation to council, architect Peter Dandyk extolled the benefits of the development, saying it would become a positive entry into the community and that it's sensitive to the surrounding residences. He noted the development, which would have "edible landscapes and urban gardens" as part of the design, has undergone numerous refinements after going through a pair of public information meetings. The mixed-use "iconic gateway" addresses the need for more mixed housing for seniors and families as well as a place for locals to work, he explained.
The application requires several approvals including a change in the Official Community Plan to the property's designation and a zoning amendment to allow the six-storey structure, which is double what's currently allowed for the area.
The Tsawwassen Area Plan permits a maximum of six storeys in the town centre and four storeys as a transition to lower building height for the area north of the Town Centre. The subject site does not fall within those areas.
A number of residents spoke in favour of the plan Tuesday including Bill Corry, who was initially opposed and had gathered a petition against it.
"Since that second meeting there's been dramatic changes in the design, so now I'm supporting this proposal. I think it's a positive project for the community," he said.
A slight majority of the speakers, however, were opposed, with several questioning the logic of having a taller commercial building away from the town core. They also worried about the precedent it may set for other developers wanting big buildings on 56th Street.
"Tall buildings with no setback are not a welcoming, friendly entrance to anywhere, let alone a rural residential community like Tsawwassen. If we must have six storey buildings at all, let them please be limited to the town centre," said Kent Warmington.
Others expressed concerns including traffic and that the development is a radical departure from the OCP, which they said should be respected.
"If the mayor says the Official Community Plan is a living document, then the Tsawwassen Area Plan was dead on arrival," said Peter Duffey.
One resident suggested the removal of the commercial building and perhaps allowing Century Group to have four storeys if more of the site was covered with seniors' housing.
Century Group present Sean Hodgins spoke briefly to council, wanting to clarify that the current zoning for the site already allows for commercial uses.
Council postponed consideration of third reading until it got more information on the impacts of moving the development into the core.
Council will look at the proposal again on July 16.