Porchlight Developments’ proposal for a four-storey 84-unit multi-residential building in the Clements neighbourhood received third reading from Peachland council last week.
The developers are proposing 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 to allow for the multi-residential development at 5481 Clements Cres., which is located between Peachland Elementary School and Trepanier Creek.
A public hearing in June drew nine written submissions, including a petition and was attended by 11 members of the public, five of whom addressed council with their concerns, which included pedestrian safety and traffic, including emergency access; neighbourhood character and density; environmental protection and floodplain concerns; and concern that the applicant will not be held accountable for commitments.
In response, the developer has committed to a pedestrian safety improvement plan as a zoning condition. The plan meets the school district recommendations and has the support of the school district traffic safety and planning staff, director of planning and development services Darin Schaal noted in his report to council.
With regard to neighbourhood character and density, a density analysis that was conducted found that the proposal is comparable with existing multi-residential developments in the Clements neighborhood.
Concerns about environmental protection, and floodplain issues in particular, had previously been raised by some members of council as well as the public. Last week council heard that following the public hearing, the developer commissioned a floodplain hazard assessment for the proposed development.
The resulting report from that assessment notes that “Trepanier Creek poses a flood hazard risk to the property, however, the hazard to the development is low because the overland flow conditions are shallow and slow moving.”
The report also outlines a number of recommendations that include a specific setback from the creek, a specific flood construction level (i.e. vertical setback), and flood protection requirements for the building.
”The professional engineer confirms that with implementation of the recommendations outlined in the report, the site is considered safe for the intended use,” states Schaal.
When the proposal came to council for first and second readings in March, the applicant, Porchlight Developments (also the developer for the Crystal Lake development on the former Todd’s RV site), was initially proposing a stratified building with an affordable homeownership model.
Upon further consideration, the developer is now proposing the building consist of rental units.
“The proposed development helps to diversify the Peachland housing stock in a neighbourhood that is ideally situated for multi-family development,” said Schaal, who also noted that the site is close to the elementary school, outdoor recreational opportunities, public transit, library, grocery store, bank, pharmacy and medical services.
Schaal said the development proposal provides opportunities for family-oriented housing, which will bolster enrollment at the adjacent elementary school.
Other multi-family developments that have been approved recently lack the affordability and rental type component offered by this development, which will help diversify Peachland’s housing offerings, he said.
Coun. Terry Condon expressed concern about access and egress in times of emergency.
Fire chief Dennis Craig said in the event of an emergency they have the means necessary to guarantee the fire department access that is needed.
Coun. Keith Fielding said his position is however beneficial it may be for the community to have this kind of housing, he believes this is absolutely the wrong place to put it. He voted in opposition to the proposal.
“We know that it’s an environmentally sensitive area, we know that our official community plan has nine pages of relevant aquatic and terrestrial guidelines and policies for areas that this development covers. We also know that it is a high risk floodplain,” said Fielding.
“I think it is a good use of land and makes perfect sense,” said Coun. Pam Cunningham. “Everyone on Beach Ave is on a floodplain. Everyone is aware of that. I think the developer has gone above and beyond to meet all the needs of this development, and for people who want to live in Peachland, have you seen the price of houses? I mean, it’s pretty unobtainable, so having a rental is a good idea.”
Coun. Patrick Van Minsel said as a community Peachland needs more diversified housing options.
“For families who are looking for housing this allows them to enter the housing market, be it as rental and be it as a strata. There’s also another portion of our population that we cannot forget. More and more people are single and only have one income to spend. For them to stay here in Peachland we need to have rental opportunities,” said Van Minsel.
Councillor Mike Kent said he feels the majority of concerns raised at the public hearing were addressed by the developer and added that Peachland businesses at the mall will benefit from density in the area.
“If we don’t start building more affordable units within our communities throughout the province, the province has already made it very clear that they’re going to step in and tell us what to do and tell us what to build and tell us how many numbers will fit there,” said Mayor Cindy Fortin. “We’re not going to have any say at all, really.”
“Minister Eby has put us on notice,” echoed CAO Joe Creron. “We have a growing population that’s out of control and he said if you don’t start approving things quicker for our population growth he’ll put stuff in place that takes us out of those discussions.”
If council later chooses to give the bylaw final adoption, the developer will 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.
The Peachland Historical Society has recommended the new road be called Twiddy Street in honour of Martha Anna Twiddy.
In addition, a sidewalk from that parking area will be established on both sides connecting from the parcel frontage and the school site.