Following a public hearing, city council has taken another step in the proposed development to Westporte Park, and looks to make a final decision in January.
Council held a public hearing on Dec. 5, in which members of the public brought forth concerns regarding the proposed development in Westporte Park for an expansion of the Rainbow Gardens care facility.
The proposed development is 20 units of one-bed housing, which will accommodate either couples or single seniors. If approved, planned construction will begin in the fall of 2017 with 20 new units being completed by Fall 2018.
John Jessup, the developer, was present at the hearing to address public concerns, according to a report on the hearing.
He recognized the difficult decision between a park and affordable housing and suggested the proposal of an inter-generational park on a portion of the property to accommodate both seniors and families in a compromise. He indicated the area would be fenced, landscaped and a safe environment.
Members of the public opposed the application, saying that the Westporte subdivision represents an ideal place to live, and that the current park should stay. John Bennie and his wife Karen, addressed council in person at the public hearing and through a letter, asking them to put off rezoning until there are actual plans, measurements, park designs and traffic studies.
Other members of the public expressed the need for a new care facility. Dorothy Patterson, a registered nurse who works as a seniors nurse consultant, indicated Port Alberni is in dire need of care beds, and Rainbow Gardens is a solution.
More details need to be in place, but it is a good place to start, she said.
The report of the public hearing held Dec. 5, was received during Monday’s regular council meeting, and the official community plan amendment was read a third time.
Councillor Denis Sauvé brought forward a motion after the third reading, directing staff to work with the West Coast Native Health Care Society on a formal agreement that would include development of a shared park space for the public use by completion of the construction phase of the intended expansion.
“The process has been a long process,” he said Monday. “Both sides are in agreement that we need the expansion. There’s no argument about that. The one argument we had was about the park.
“I want the expansion, but I would like an agreement that we will have a shared park with the community, just like they said.
“But I would like to have it on paper.”
There was some debate among council regarding the motion. Councillor Sharie Minions said she has full trust that Rainbow Gardens is going to build the park, and argued, “I don’t know that putting a date on it is reasonable given that their first priority is building their facility.”
After some debate, the motion was defeated.
Councillor Jack McLeman made a notice of motion for January based on what was heard at the public hearing that council resurrect the request for proposal for the vacant property to the east of the Westporte subdivision, including another park.