Powell River’s new affordable housing complex came before City of Powell River’s committee of the whole for consideration of the next steps by the city for the development.
At the committee meeting on Tuesday, July 2, manager of planning services Jason Gow said the purpose of his report was to consider an amendment to the zoning of a parcel of land located on Ontario Avenue, just north of Alberni Street. The site is designated as the location of a 42-unit affordable housing development owned by BC Housing and inclusion Powell River.
Gow said in terms of the siting of the property, it is adjacent to Capilano Highways’ works yard. It measures about an acre in size. The land is in close proximity to Town Centre Mall and transit routes.
The property was once owned by the city; its ownership was transferred to BC Housing. Gow said the area had been identified as one that could be suitable for affordable housing.
“In terms of the development, it will be a four-storey building with 42 units in total, with a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units,” said Gow. “The project intends to serve families, seniors and people with disabilities and mobility challenges.”
Plans are for the project to be managed and operated by inclusion Powell River Society.
Gow said to accommodate this kind of development, there has to be an amendment to the land use designation, as well as the zoning. The current land use designation is urban residential low density. It allows for ground-oriented multifamily developments. It does not allow for apartment-style development, as is proposed with this project.
Gow said to accommodate this, if it is the wish of council, staff members are proposing an amendment to the land use designation to urban residential medium density, which is associated with apartment-style developments.
Gow said the current zoning is RMS (multifamily residential select), which is compact housing intended for seniors housing. It would have accommodated about 23 units under that particular zoning. It would not accommodate what is being proposed for the land use. A change in zoning would be required for the affordable housing complex to proceed.
Staff has undertaken preliminary consultation with property owners in and around the subject property. This was done in conjunction with BC Housing and inclusion Powell River at a public information meeting.
“I did have an opportunity to speak to a number of residents,” said Gow. “There are two other multifamily residential developments along Ontario Avenue. One is a private multifamily development of nine duplexes and then Life Cycle Housing, which is an affordable housing unit development.”
Gow said in total there are about 50 units in the neighbourhood.
“The concern I heard from the residents was around additional traffic,” said Gow. “It’s a fair comment. Ontario Avenue in this area is a dead-end road.”
His recommendation is that there be an inclusion in the development cost charge list so the city would be putting away money to see the build-out of the road so there would be two points of access.
Gow said while he heard the concerns from the members of the community, he said the city is in dire need of affordable housing as well.
“It’s one where we have to weigh our priorities,” said Gow.
Councillor Jim Palm said the one feature that grabs his attention right away is the height of the complex.
Gow said the building is supposed to be close to 14 metres in height and in the new zone being proposed there is a 13.5-metre height restriction, so there will be a requirement for a variance.
Mayor Dave Formosa said he is very excited about the project, as did councillor Maggie Hathaway.
The matter will be sent to city council for consideration of amendments to the Sustainable Official Community Plan and the Zoning Bylaw, as well as new road construction.