Parking dispute keeps Chemainus Road’s ugly blue building standing

The old Viking Foods outlet on Chemainus Road has been criticized as an eyesore. - Peter W. Rusland
The old Viking Foods outlet on Chemainus Road has been criticized as an eyesore.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

The ugliest building in Chemainus could become a commercial-condo building — if North Cowichan and developer George Taylor come to terms.

The rub about replacing the old blue building at 9666 Chemainus Road — formerly Viking Foods — hinges on agreement about property easement, donated parking-stall numbers, plus cash for stalls.

While council and Taylor tussle about the four-storey project — offering 15 apartments and five ground-floor commercial spaces — the local Frankel family simply wants to rid Mural Town of the concrete carbuncle.

“Is it not time to give consideration to the fact that a disgraceful structure is what greets visitors, tourists and guests?” they wrote council.

“How long will it be before you, our elected (politicians), put the health, safety, and well-being of our community first?”

Until Taylor and municipal planners reach common ground, answered Mayor Tom Walker.

“I’m in agreement it’s an ugly building. It’s in the developer’s ballpark. He just has to make an appointment with planning.”

That’s not a date Taylor aims to make soon.

The owner of Duncan’s Ukee Holdings said North Cowichan is playing hardball on parking-stall numbers, and an easement across his parking lot that could lure vandals.

“It’s not an easement — it’d be a thoroughfare,” he said.

“Council only listens to staff. The mayor says ‘The door’s open’ — What? The back door?”

Walker said council would drop the required 43 stalls to 25, if Taylor agreed to giving five stalls for site amenities (bike racks); five more for the parking-lot right of way; and paying $64,000 (eight stalls at $8,000 each).

Walker also wants the north-facing wall decorated.

Taylor’s math shows just 24 stalls are needed.

“With (a) change in occupancy of the main floor, a small variance to the apartment requirement, credits for bicycle and scooter parking, and consideration for two stalls lost to accommodate planning changes, we can provide parking without the need to buy stalls.”

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