Preliminary concept drawings of the affordable housing building proposed for Trail. (Courtesy DJM Contracting Ltd.)

New builds attract full house to Trail council

Re-zoning is required before either of the two proposed projects can proceed

Two proposals for new builds in Trail led to a sight not often seen, which is a packed house for Monday night council.

Related story here: New affordable housing in the works for Trail

The crowd was present for a public hearing that preceded the regular meeting. Up for discussion were a pair of zoning bylaw changes that, upon approval, will permit construction of a six townhouses on Old Waneta Road and the development of an affordable housing complex in East Trail.

Notably, the two projects are in no way related.

Council first addressed the request by Riverland Development to re-zone 8293 and 8303 Old Waneta Road from single family residential (R1) and two-family residential (R2) respectively, to small multiple family residential (R5).

In other words, the undeveloped properties are currently zoned for construction of family homes. The property owner of both lots is seeking to consolidate the two and build half a dozen townhouses.

One neighbouring homeowner, who lives above the Old Waneta Road site, was on hand to clarify if the height allowance would change under the new R5 designation.

Understandably, his concern revolved around property impacts, or if new construction could end up obstructing his view. He wanted to confirm that those parameters would not be significantly higher than what is permitted in R1 and R2 zones, which is 10 metres for principal buildings, or 2.5 stories.

Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac clarified that height requirements under R5 are slightly greater at 12 metres.

She said the matter of height had already been raised with the developer.

“He indicated, though we don’t have details design plans for his townhouses, that the maximum height would be about 9.75 metres,” McIsaac explained. “So he would be meeting the height restrictions as detailed in R1 and R2 … although he would be permitted by the R5 zone to go to a maximum of 12 meters.”

After two more calls for representations and hearing none, Mayor Lisa Pasin moved the public hearing to the next item, which was a re-zoning request from the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society.

The group is looking to tear down the former McBride Manor at 1232 Columbia Avenue and build a nine-unit apartment building for seniors and low income families.

Essentially, the lot will become a “spot zone” for small multiple family residential to allow for property development.

The society’s president Janet Morton spoke first.

She outlined the years of housing analysis done using census figures and other data, all of which revealed a growing need for affordable housing in the region. Morton laid out the groundwork, in particular with BC Housing, that was required in order for the project to proceed.

Then she touched on who a future renter would be.

“In housing there is a continuum, ranging from one end which is emergency shelter, to the other end, which is fully private housing,” she explained. “We are pretty close to the middle. So we will be bringing in people who are low income by various standards, but they are people who do not need supports to live stable lives,” Morton continued.

“They are not people who are struggling … and lives are unstable. They simply have had bad luck … this is an opportunity to give them a helping hand up … ”

Morton also clarified that a tenant services coordinator would assist the board with selecting renters, and she emphasized the build would be solid construction and kept in good condition.

Only one visitor asked a question. She was concerned about pets, specifically, if large dogs would be allowed.

Renters will be permitted to bring their pet with them, either a cat or a dog. But there is a condition, Morton said.

“They are not in the position to replace the pet once it passes on.”

The public hearing soon closed, and council later gave both zoning bylaw amendments a third reading.

One last hurdle remains, which is approval from the Ministry of Transportation. Once the city has the ministry’s green-light and council adopts the zoning changes, then both developments can proceed.

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