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No opposition to downtown hotel

A proposed 24-storey downtown hotel has passed yet another hurdle with nary a word of opposition.

Westcorp Inc. was issued a Development Permit and Development Variance Permit by unanimous vote of council Tuesday night.

Not only is council fully behind the project, so is the community in general.

City Clerk Stephen Fleming, says the city received 57 letters of support for the project and none in opposition.

The variance permit concerns both the shape of the tower and its height, which is five storeys higher than the 19-level allowance.

Westcorp Vice-President Gail Temple says the next step is the detailed design of the hotel.

"Now the next sign off from the city is the building permit and that's all the construction drawings," says Temple.

"That will take an awful long time to do because we haven't done detailed design on the interior of the building, because you don't begin that process until you get to this point and you have approval to move forward."

Temple says that process could take six months to a year.

As soon as a building permit is received, Temple says the company will be ready to put shovels in the ground and begin construction. She hopes that will begin either in the spring or the fall.

With a two year build out, Temple says it's expected the hotel will open sometime in 2017.

"We will commence construction such that, two years later, we are in the slow part of the tourist season... to ensure we don't open in the high part of the summer," says Temple.

"It allows us to get the bugs out of the building and get our operations very crisp before we have to deal with a lot of tourists."

In exchange for the building variances, Westcorp has agreed to an amenity contribution of approximately $359,000.

Those monies would be earmarked for improvements to Kerry Park, which is adjacent to the hotel site.

Temple says it is hoped the city would make those improvements to coincide with the opening of the hotel.

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