Silva Bay owner now proposing to build marina office - not pub - on upper dock

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 15 2018

Silva Bay Marina has updated its application to the Islands Trust and Regional District of Nanaimo and is now proposing to construct a marina office, rather than a restaurant, where the former Silva Bay Pub sat on the upper docks.

It is unclear from the latest referral whether the Silva Bay ownership intends to pursue a food and drink establishment to be operating for 2018. 

Owner Mark Sager had not responded to queries as of press time.

On May 1, the Islands Trust office on Gabriola issued a response to the Regional District of Nanaimo, in which the Trust staff state that the new proposal is to construct a marina office. 

Even the marina office will have hoops to jump through in order to get Trust and RDN approval.

The current proposal is to construct a building in the same location as previously proposed but, instead of a restaurant, the proposed building would be used as a marina office. 

There are issues with the revised proposal related to non-conforming siting, development permit requirements, other agency approvals, and potentially non-conforming use. 

Staff note that the issues could be avoided by siting the proposed new building in an upland location that complies with setback requirements.

The proposed building would straddle two zones: the TC1 zone (upland) and the WC1 zone (below the natural boundary of the sea). The TC1 zone permits “land oriented marina facilities” as a permitted use (subject to setbacks from the natural boundary of the sea), and the WC1 zone permits “buildings for marine fuel sales and for seaplane dockage” as permitted buildings. 

The application submission does not specify the intended uses of the proposed new marina office building, so it is unclear whether or not the proposal complies with the permitted uses of the respective zones.

Staff state that as of at least March 15, 2018, half of the building was removed, and it appears that only decking, pilings and part of one exterior wall are remaining. 

Based on the proposed plans, the applicants intend to remove and replace what exists of the deck and pilings, constituting an entire tear down/rebuild of this section of the building. 

“We do not consider this proposal to fit within the parameters of Section 529 of the Local Government Act, which pertains to maintaining, extending and altering structures that have nonconforming siting.

“The setback to the sea, applicable to the portion of the building located in the TC1 zone, is not indicated on the plans either. 

“However, it appears that the proposed building would overlap with the entirety of the setback area.

“A development variance permit to vary the setback provision of Section B.2.1.1 of the Gabriola Island Land Use Bylaw, and possibly Section D.5.2.3(d), would be required to authorize the marina office building in the proposed location.”

Staff note the waters fronting the development site are within the Flat Top Islands Development Permit Area (DPA), which was established for the purpose of protecting the natural environment, its ecosystems and biodiversity, in recognition of the environmentally sensitive nature of Silva Bay and its surrounding islands. 

There are a number of existing environmental concerns associated with the development of the subject property, including the continued presence of exposed construction debris from the partially demolished former pub building as well as the existence of a sewage outfall for the development site which discharges into Silva Bay. 

“The DPA is intended to mitigate environmental impacts associated with development and, as such, development permits are required prior to ‘construction of, addition to, or alteration of a building or other structure,’ and ‘alteration of land’ within the DPA. 

“Before any demolition and/or replacement of the remaining deck and pilings may occur, a development permit must be in place. A development permit would also be required to authorize construction of the portion of the proposed building cantilevered over the natural boundary of the sea.”

In October of 2017, the main building of Silva Bay, which contained a restaurant and pub, was gutted by fire.

This spring, Mark Sager, the owner of Silva Bay, proposed to construct a pub where the former pub had been located on the upper docks of the marina, with hopes of having it open this summer.

When he applied to the RDN for a building permit, he was told that the permit required a development permit to be issued by the Islands Trust.

Issuing of a development permit takes at minimum three months, though for the Islands Trust as well a number of local governments, it can take longer for the development permit process to be completed.

In early April, Sager had asked the Gabriola Local Trust Committee to issue him a temporary-use permit for a food and drink establishment on the docks, but was told there is no legal way for that to happen.