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City of Powell River Council approves permit for housing complex

Development will provide four-storey building with 42 rental units
Powell River City Hall
Powell River City Hall. Peak archive photo

City of Powell River Council has approved a recommendation to facilitate construction of a multifamily residential housing development on a vacant property on Ontario Avenue designed for affordable housing.

At the council meeting on February 20, councillors considered recommendations that would provide variances to parking and setbacks, as well as the development permit to provide for construction of the facility.

In introducing the first recommendation, which would relax the required number of off-street parking spaces from 63 to 42, and the required setback from the side lot line from three to 1.6 metres, councillor Rob Southcott said the project was being done by inclusion Powell River, in partnership with BC Housing.

Southcott said the reduction in parking spaces was a reasonable ask due to the location of the housing complex, on the north side of Alberni Street.

“It’s quite accessible as far as walking, cycling, and it is thought that the people living in that facility will very much take advantage of that,” said Southcott.

Councillors voted to pass the first recommendation.

The second recommendation was that development permit 263 to facilitate construction of a multifamily residential housing development on a vacant property located on Ontario Avenue be issued subject to receipt of the associated security deposit for required landscaping to the satisfaction of the director of planning services.

Council voted in favour of the second recommendation.

According to a staff report, the property measured just under an acre and was transferred from city ownership to BC Housing in 2018.

“There is no question the community needs additional affordable housing units,” the report stated. “The city’s rental vacancy rate hovers just above zero per cent and the cost for suitable rental units has increased significantly over the last few years.

“This proposal by BC Housing, in conjunction with their operating partner Powell River Inclusive Housing Society (a division of inclusion Powell River Society), will address some of this need.”

The report stated that the proposal is for a four-storey, 42-unit development with a range of unit sizes, from one to three bedrooms, that will provide subsidized living accommodations for a variety of people, including families, seniors and people with disabilities and mobility challenges.

In terms of financial impact, the property appears to be eligible for the development cost charge exemption. The city’s development cost charge bylaw states that no development cost charge is payable for construction of affordable housing.

According to the report, the bylaw defines affordable housing as non-market housing managed by a non-profit society for persons on low income or with disabilities. The report states that based on current development cost charges, this amounts to an exemption of $168,924.