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Rezoning draws objection at City of Powell River meeting

Three opponents express concerns at public hearing into potential change to Manson Avenue property designation
HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: A property up for rezoning at 5201 Manson Avenue went to public hearing before City of Powell River Council, where three people expressed objections. The large property, which currently has one house sitting on it, would be rezoned into a number of smaller lots if the zoning bylaw is eventually passed.

Three people expressed opposition to city councillors regarding a proposed rezoning of a property at 5201 Manson Avenue from A1 (small lot rural residential) to CD4 (comprehensive development 4 residential small lots).

The property in question was the subject of a City of Powell River public hearing on December 15.

The property is a 2.15 hectare (5.31 acre) parcel of land on which developer Alan Rebane has said he wants to construct a number of residences. The property currently has one house on it.

At the public hearing, neighbour Doug Campbell said he lives about 130 feet from the proposed project and is strongly opposed to the development.

“I know the area really well,” said Campbell. “One of my good friends used to live on this property before he sold it.

“The property has two acres in the centre that’s a meadow and two acres on the southeast side that’s a forest. It’s my understanding, from the planning department, that if this zoning is changed, the new owner can cut all the trees down.”

Campbell said there are 200 to 300 mature evergreen trees there and it seems strange to him that someone could cut all those trees down, but the city demands, if someone wants to cut a tree down on their own property, that a permit is required for one tree. He said he didn’t know how it would affect a stream there but that it would probably be adversely affected.

Campbell said the next thing he objects to is affordability.

“This project is not affordable for people in Powell River; it’s too expensive,” said Campbell. “It’s pointed toward people from the Lower Mainland. No young family with kids is going to be able to move in there. It’s all going to be out of town money and I don’t see how that helps us.”

Campbell said building 28 houses is ridiculous in this spot. He said given market conditions, he doesn’t think the project is viable.

Campbell asked councillors how they would like 28 units adjacent to their own properties.

“I would hope that you would reject the project,” he added.

Entrance access

Another neighbour, Eddie Diana, spoke next. He said the problem he has is the access to the property.

“When I first started looking into it, I thought the subdivision would be allowed with access onto Joyce Avenue,” said Diana. “We’re right in the middle of that intersection. You go through there now and it is perfectly nice and quiet.

“While I won’t say I support the application, I don’t have problems with it if you can get that access off of Joyce before you approve the redevelopment.”

Diana said he preferred single-family residences, not duplexes or townhouses. He said he would prefer a nice little subdivision where families can live.

Councillors then heard from Tina Bevans, who lives next door to the proposed subdivision.

“You’re going to put a large number of houses, people and dogs there,” said Bevans. “What is going to change our neighbourhood isn’t going to be impacted by just houses, but it’s going to be the people.”

Wildlife worries

She asked how the wildlife and watercourses were going to be protected.

“When you get a large number of homes, humans and their animals, how do you protect the interactions of animals of which we are definitely killing way too many of in our community?” asked Bevans. “I don’t know how you can develop something to protect personal property. I’m not objecting to people coming to Powell River, however, as a city, we have many more properties that we could be looking at rezoning and developing that aren’t sitting on an animal corridor.”

Bevans said she understands how a landowner would want to get money out of their property, but to put it into a concentration in a small area is unfair to the surrounding homes.

“How do I protect my property, my investment and legal issues from a concentration of people coming in?” asked Bevans. “There are other areas that would be better suited for housing.”

Rebane, in a telephone interview, indicated that the matter is scheduled for third reading by city council in January. He said the public hearing went well, with a large number of letters having been sent out by the city to neighbouring properties. There were only three objections expressed at the hearing, he added.

“I don’t really think it’s that big a deal,” said Rebane. “Right now, I’m set up to do my small lots. I’m still prepared to do multi-units, but then I have to deal with it differently.

“The province has a big push on now for multi-townhouses. They are making funding more available for people who want to put in multi-units. I can find money now for multiple units.”

The city’s planning department has advocated for Rebane to build higher-density housing units on the Manson Avenue property.

Rebane is now balancing his options and said he would know a lot more in early January before the matter is heard again by city council.

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