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City of Powell River Council delays property rezoning decision

Vote postpones amendment bylaw for property in crowded neighbourhood
RENTAL COMPLEX: City of Powell River councillors voted to postpone a decision on a rezoning application and send it back to staff to see if solutions could be found for neighbourhood concerns.

Rather than voting down a zoning amendment bylaw for a property on Algoma Avenue, City of Powell River Council has postponed a decision on the property’s rezoning.

At the September 22 city council meeting, councillors considered the amendment to the bylaw that would change the zoning on the Algoma property from R2 to RM4, which would allow for higher density apartment housing at that location.

Councillor Rob Southcott said this lot in the downtown core is between Algoma and Marine Avenue, and land use planning is mixed-use commercial and residential.

“The proposal is for six two-bedroom units, with square footage between 750 and 800 square feet,” said Southcott. “This certainly ticks the box for need for housing. There would be a tax revenue increase because of the density. It’s infill development and that’s what we are looking for.”

Southcott said there is one reservation about this proposal and that is for six units, five vehicle parking places are proposed, but he supported the rezoning.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she wanted to support this kind of housing and that it’s much needed. She said she was worried about the lack of a loading zone off Algoma in order to pick up and drop off people, or unload furniture, or for deliveries, because there is no guest parking.

“Algoma is just too narrow,” said Elliott. “Something needs to be done before I could support the motion.”

Mayor Dave Formosa said in all the years he’s sat on council, he doesn’t think councillors have turned down a project.

“I heard many angry and upset people over this development,” said Formosa. “I drove there and I tried to figure out where the lot was. When I look at it, maybe a duplex on the property.

“I know how much we need housing, but at what cost to the neighbours? Stacking as many people as we can in there is great for the developer and great for the city’s taxes, but it’s not going to make or break us. I heard from a lot of people in that neighbourhood who were not happy about this, so I’m giving my vote this time to the neighbourhood.”

Councillor Maggie Hathaway asked if the owner of the proposed building could put some kind of restrictive covenant on tenants, restricting the number of cars, to overcome the parking problem. She said she is in favour of the development because she thinks people who want to live in the area are going to want to ride their bikes.

Councillor Jim Palm said if the mayor is saying he had reservations about this development, he had concerns about passing the motion.

Hathaway said rather than defeating the development, what she would like to do is send it back to the developer to see if they can come up with a creative idea on how to overcome the issue, such as a restrictive covenant for parking.

Corporate office Chris Jackson said the motion could pass or fail, but an alternative was referring the matter back to staff through postponing the motion. He said planning staff could have a conversation with the developer, which would generate another public hearing. The current council would not have time to deal with the matter before the municipal election so it would be referred to the new council, he added.

Council voted unanimously to postpone the motion and refer it back to staff.

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