Mixed response to proposed multi-residential building on Clements

Joanne Layh

Peachland council was sharply divided in its response to a recent proposal for a four-storey 84-unit multi-residential building in the Clements neighbourhood.

At the Mar. 22 regular meeting Peachland council gave first and second readings to OCP and zoning amendment bylaws to allow for the development at 5481 Clements Cres., located between Peachland Elementary School and Trepanier Creek.

The application proposes to amend the OCP for a portion of the property from Low Density Residential (LDR) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) and to rezone the parcel from A2 Rural (non-ALR) to RM4 Multi-unit Residential – Medium Density and R1 Single Detached Residential.

“The developer is anticipating that their project will provide multi-family units that are considered attainable (under $500,000) for a median income family,” said director of planning and development services Darin Schaal in his report to council.

Schaal noted that in Peachland’s OCP the Clements neighbourhood has been identified as an area that is well suited for multi-family in consideration of its proximity to the elementary school, shopping, and transit.

The applicant, Porchlight Developments, is proposing a stratified building with an affordable homeownership model that includes a down payment assistance program. The developer is proposing that the Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) from this development project, as well as their Todd’s Resort development, be put into a fund to allow for grants for home ownership opportunities. The proposal would see Porchlight make 16 units available in the Clements project for first time homeowners, which would cover approximately 75 per cent of the down payment required to purchase a unit in the building. Between the Clements development and Todd’s Resort, the CACs are estimated to total approximately $250,000.

The eastern portion of the subject property would be protected for environmental and future parkland/trail purposes, said Shaal.

The developer would also be required to construct a short road next to the school as well as parking stalls for the school and pick up and drop off spots along the new road during peak periods with a small cul de sac or bulb at the end of the road to help with improving traffic conditions during peak periods.

“Furthermore, a sidewalk from that parking area will be established on both sides connecting from the parcel frontage and in front of the adjacent school connecting right onto the school site. This is something that the developer, ourselves, and the school district have worked on to ensure that all parties are satisfied and that would improve the safety conditions for children in the area,” said Schaal.

The Peachland Historical Society has recommended the new road be called Twiddy Street in honour of Martha Anna Twiddy.

The response to this proposal from Peachland council was divided, with Councillors Keith Fielding and Terry Condon opposed, and the remaining council members in favour of the development.

“I have so many concerns with this proposal that I hardly know where to begin,” said Coun. Fielding. 

Fielding said it was “extremely inappropriate” for a developer to come forward with recommendations about use of CACs for affordable housing at the same time they are asking for OCP and zoning amendments.

He also cited concerns about the destruction of trees in an environmentally sensitive area, traffic issues, and insufficient setback from the creek.

He noted that the town has affordable rental accommodations in the form of the Residences on 6th and the phase two seniors housing project.

“As things stand, there is absolutely no way I am prepared to support this for first and second reading. I think it’s a half baked plan that is not justified any of the evidence that the developer has so far presented,” said Fielding.

Coun. Condon echoed Fielding’s concerns and also voted in opposition to the recommendation. 

The remaining members of council were generally supportive of the proposal, although most expressed concerns about the floodplain and how that would be addressed later in the process.

“I will be supportive of this recommendation. I think that the developer in this case did an excellent job. Here in Peachland we are desperately in need of some attainable housing as told by many, many of our residents,” said Coun. Patrick Van Minsel. “This is a multi-family development that will bring added value to our community. It’s a well thought out plan. The only concern I have is the floodplain but that will be addressed at the permit development phase.”

“I don’t see it as out of character for the surrounding neighbourhood,” said Coun. Mike Kent. “We do have a multi-dwelling in close proximity. It does back onto a school, which seems to be appropriate. I do agree with Councillor Fielding that we require a traffic feasibility study to ensure that we have the appropriate information moving forward. That being said, I do feel that this is an appropriate use of land for the proposed development.” 

Coun. Pam Cunningham said it’s time to help younger people get into the housing market.

“I believe this is a good use of the land space as well,” said Cunningham. “This is a unique idea obviously with the grant but keep in mind we’ve given property for seniors affordable housing, we did change the OCP, we waived all the charges for the elderly. Now it’s time to do something for young families who can’t afford to buy a house. I think it’s a great idea.”   

Mayor CIndy Forin said she sees this as a “win situation”.

“I was actually quite excited to see this,” said Fortin. “We need to support young families. We’ve supported seniors with affordable seniors housing and yes, we dedicated land to that, we forgave some DCCs and I understand that that was a significant amount of money.”

Fortin also noted that the proposed development would bring pedestrian safety improvements to the area.

A public hearing for the proposal is expected to be scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

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