Thursday, June 29, 2023

Two Apartment Building proposals advance in the City's planning process

Plans for housing on Hays Cove Avenue at Frederick made for
much discussions by Council on Monday evening

A pair of apartment proposals to address some of the city's dire need for accommodation moved forward on Monday evening, with both the Hays Cove Apartment planning and that for an apartment building on Ninth Avenue West at Lisa Walters Drive both finding success for the motions in front of council on the night.

Of the two, it was the Hays Cove plans that generated all of the conversation, that following some push back from area residents at the last Council session on June 12th, where they expressed concerns over the process in place towards notifications.

That topic was addressed at the outset of the Council session by Mayor Herb Pond who acknowledged of some confusion from the June 12th session towards what residents could or could not speak towards.

That topic carried forward into the public Comment period on Monday evening,  as one resident from the area, Dawn Quast asked for some clarification as to why the topic was back up in front of Council.

Mayor Pond speaking to the process, noted that in effect the night was a reset after the public notification concerns of two weeks ago.

"This is coming back to Council for reconsideration, it could be passed tonight, it could  not passed tonight, but the decision is in front of Council this evening ... we're looking at the matter afresh tonight. 

Given the fact, that the reason for doing that ... it would appear that the notification process failed, without a proper notification process it's hard for Council to make the right fully informed decision.

So pause, back up, notification is complete, now were here again"

The full discussion would come a bit later in the Council session with many of the Council members revisiting many of their commentary and concerns of two weeks ago. Much of it not related to the actual motion of the night that of a request for the height variance and parking variance.

With City Manager Rob Buchan not in attendance on the night, the task of keeping Council aware of the process that has been put in place related to delegation to staff, fell to Planning Manager Myfannwy Pope.

She  took Council members through the elements of the process relevant to the night, that of the request for the height variance and parking themes.

The pertinent element of that a key portion of the Report for council that was first introduced in May and was included as part of the Council Agenda on the night .

click on items above to enlarge 

Ms. Pope noted that the appeal for the property in question was that the lot was City owned and the Zoning was already in place for a multi family structure. 

She also observed that shifting the focus to another city owned lot could have an impact on the timelines towards the federal funding element of the Rapid Housing initiative. 

As part of her overview she also reminded Council that they had previously delegated Development Approval to staff. Something  which means in this instance the topic would not come back to Council for a decision, but there were two other processes involved, a Development Permit process and a Building Permit process.

Councillor Nick Adey seemed to put the best focus for Council of the concerns of the residents when it comes to the process in place.

"I just want to acknowledge that if I was sitting in the gallery and I was a person that was feeling very uncomfortable with this project. 

I have the highest regard for staff and the highest regard for the intention of staff to take all of these things into account.

But if Im a member of the public my point of connection  is with Council. 

And so I don't know that I would feel very comfortable with knowing that this was the last council deliberation on this. So I just want to acknowledge that that may be how people are feeling.

I think if it does go forward based on the vote, I think that  its really incumbent upon staff to honour those points of view in the process that follows and I would like to assume that that's the case."-- Councillor Nick Adey

For her part of the discussion on the night, Councillor Teri Forster noted of Council's previous decision to delegate the process to staff. 

"At the last council meeting, I believe I raised, we delegated this to staff and its important that if we delegate things that we can't be going back and forth. We need to sort of pick a path and follow it.

That said,  just wondering if there is a possibility of making a motion that specific projects would have to come back for the Building permit or not. 

Just wondering cause that is sort of what I'm hearing from some of the discussions, is that sort of a question ... we're going around again on the same thing which makes me think that there might be appetite for a middle ground" -- Councillor Teri Forster

Following some further discussion to the theme, a vote of five councillors in favour and one against, that being councillor Adey, moved the height variance request forward. 

Though from the conversation on the night there was a provision put in place: that application for a Development Permit be brought back to Council prior to approval, to understand how community concerns regarding the proposed variance and project will be mitigated.

More background to the Council Discussion of Monday can be found from our Council Timeline.

The second housing proposal that of the apartment plans for city owned property on Ninth West adjacent to Prince Rupert Middle School moved forward without any comment from Council.

The councillors having discussed that proposal extensively two weeks ago.

For Monday the fourth and final reading for the variance request passed with no discussion.

You can follow work of Council on both from the City's Video Archive.

The Hays Cove conversation starts at the one hour, twenty minute mark, the Ninth West Zoning Amendment Bylaw approval takes place at the 2 hour 20 minute mark

More notes related to Housing in the city can be reviewed here.

Further items of interest from the Monday Council session can explored here.

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