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Affordable housing sways Kelowna council on townhouse project

‘It’s being mandated on us that we look at having development’
Conceptual rendering of townhouse development proposed for 979 and 983 Coronation Ave. (Photo/City of Kelowna)

The need for affordable housing in Kelowna won out over neighbourhood concerns at a public hearing (Apr. 18) for a townhouse project planned for the North End.

The developer wants to build nine units at 979 and 983 Coronation Avenue but asked for a height variance, from two storeys to three, for its rezoning application. Several area residents spoke against the project.

“The current zoning checks all the boxes,” said one neighbour. “There is already an established pattern of development. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

Much of the concern was over the height variance as well as the closeness of the townhouses to the street.

“It doesn’t fit the existing neighbourhood,” said another resident. “I can see it working in 15 years, but right now it’s ginormous in massing and in height.”

Speaking on behalf of the applicant Brian Quiring with MQN Architects in Vernon said the development adheres to smart growth principles.

“It limits urban sprawl…it’s upgrading the existing housing stock…it provides alternative housing type, ground-oriented units,” he added. “I can’t agree that it isn’t the right fit.”

Several councillors sided with residents in opposing the project.

READ MORE: Kelowna councillor says townhouse project ‘overkill’ for neighbourhood

Coun. Rick Webber noted that when the development first came to council he had said that it looked like a tight fit for the neighbourhood.

“I just have the feeling that it’s the right project in the wrong spot.”

Coun. Mohini Singh said she was on the fence but pointed out Kelowna needs housing.

“I’m sorry but I’m going to support this for the sake of just that need to address the housing crisis we are facing in our city.”

Coun. Luke Stack added that he also wrestled with the project.

“It’s a tough one because this is the first one we’ve seen in this neighbourhood and we want to get it right.”

Mayor Tom Dyas, who ended up casting the deciding vote on the matter, also said the city needs affordable housing.

“What’s happening to our community is that it’s being mandated on us that we look at having development.”

Dyas also asked the applicant to pay attention to design features in its project that provide privacy for area neighbours.

“It is just a request but when it comes back it will be noted for yourself and staff that those particular things will be looked at during the building permit stage.”

Council voted 5-4 to give second and third readings to rezone the property, with councillors Webber, Gord Lovegrove, Charlie Hodge, and Ron Cannan opposed.


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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