Gibsons split over proposed hotel and condo development
Move over Molly's Reach, George wants in at Gibsons Landing as development proposal leaves locals divided.
One of B.C.'s most famous dockside communities — Gibsons, which served as the set of the classic Canadian TV series The Beachcombers — has been split in half by plans for a new hotel and condo development.
The project called The George, would feature a two high-rises with a 118-room hotel, a conference centre, and 35 luxury condominiums.
But the proposal has split the community in two, with those who welcome the jobs and investment facing off against those who would prefer to leave the quaint waterfront community just the way it was when Nick and Relic walked the docks.
Detractors have singled out the two high-rise towers, one 10 storeys and one eight storeys, as being too tall. As well the George building site is in area deemed sensitive due to a shallow aquifer.
"Our position is we love Gibsons for the peaceful serenity, quality of life and small town character," resident Suzanne Senger told CBC. "And that's about to be sold off to a big city developer who wants high rise condos like in White Rock."
But other residents think the project can't be started soon soon enough, given the sagging local economy.
"This town needs some economic development because we lost 150 jobs at the pulp mill." said longtime resident Jim Nimmo.
"I know these jobs won't be paying the same money but they'll still be keeping someone employed."
'I don't want to work retail my whole life'
Starr Metz, who works at Swish Clothing, says The George will help young people stay in Gibsons.
"The people here that don't want it are retired, or are going to be retiring," she said.
"They're not worried about jobs for people my age who don't want to leave. I don't want to work retail my whole life."
Nimmo says the proposed development has divided the town since it was first proposed two and a half years ago.
"I know people who used to be friends who aren't friends anymore," he said.
A packed public hearing was held Thursday night in the local high school gymnasium.
City council is expected to vote on a rezoning amendment next week. The project still requires a further reading and final approval before it can go ahead.