- BC Games
Sportstown rezoning gets early OK
Another six homes are being squeezed into a proposal to rezone Sportstown and replace the longtime East Richmond recreation hub with a townhouse complex.
City council’s planning committee rejected an earlier bid by Interface Architecture Inc., on behalf of owner Sportstown BC Operations Ltd., to rezone 4991 No. 5 Rd. Councillors wanted staff to consider other options, such as adding commercial space and greater density to the plan.
This week, nine months later, staff presented councillors with a new proposal that’s little changed, adding a handful of townhouses to the proposed complex that now stands at 108 units.
On Tuesday planning committee endorsed first reading.
The applicant considered but rejected commercial options, noted planner Sara Badyal in her report, citing as reasons location, layout, limited road frontage and distance from other commercial uses.
“After consideration, the applicant does not consider a stand-alone commercial development, or a mixed-use development to be economically viable for this site,” noted Badyal.
The proponent also panned the idea of apartments, because of distance from City Centre, market supply, higher cost, site layout and neighbourhood feedback.
Sportstown is a private indoor sports facility home to soccer leagues, a tennis club, soccer academy and licensed restaurant. It’s also headquarters for the Richmond Gymnastics Association, which occupies space leased by the city that also accommodates air pistol and archery programs of the Richmond Rod and Gun Club. Concerned about the loss of recreation space, councillors also called on staff to probe the impact of the private facility’s potential closure. Staff concluded there’s room at other facilities for tennis and soccer players.
In a memo to council, Gregg Wheeler, manager of sports and community events, and Dave Semple, general manager of community services, noted the majority of tennis and soccer players come to Sportstown from outside Richmond, including 80 per cent of the 700 participants in the soccer league.
They also noted the gun club has potentially found a new home, having secured a property on Mitchell Island.
It’s a different story for the Richmond Gymnastics Association. A lease between Sportstown and the city expires in 2016, and a new location has yet to be found.
“Staff are currently working on options for the association, including leasing a more suitable space and other joint location options. The association has been working with staff and are aware of the need to complete this work prior to the lease expiry in February of 2016,” according to the memo.
Sportstown is promising to give $1 million to the city for its leisure facilities reserve fund—if rezoning is granted.
Following council ratification of this week’s decision, the application would next go to a public hearing.
•City rezoned 4991 No. 5 Rd. in 1971 for a privately-owned tennis facility
•Western Indoor Tennis opened in 1972 with indoor tennis courts, two-storey clubhouse with restaurant and 10 outdoor tennis courts with temporary bubble for winter months
•In 2000 the property was sold to Sportstown BC Operations Ltd., which renovated clubhouse, constructed central arena and installed artificial turf
•In 2001 the city leased space in the central arena for gymnastics and rod and gun recreation uses
•Council’s planning committee considers rezoning application for a 102-unit townhouse complex in January 2013
•New application considered by planning committee for 108-unit townhouse complex