Kelowna business owners who were opposed to the style of a supportive housing complex slated to be built in their neighbourhood were “pleasantly surprised” Monday to hear council defer their decision on the project.
City Council was to decide on the form and character of 55-unit BC Housing development at 1642 Commerce Avenue, but the Crown corporation pulled the plan for a redesign.
“Given the feedback we have received on the building design for the proposed project at Commerce Avenue, BC Housing will work on improving the appearance of the building, including landscaping, to address the concerns expressed by neighboring businesses,” said a BC Housing spokesperson, via email.
“We are working as quickly as possible to do this to ensure individuals experiencing homelessness in the community will have access to more supportive housing.”
It was a response the mayor agreed with.
“I’m pleased BC Housing is responding to concerns of neighbours,” said Kelowna mayor Colin Basran at the time. There was no indication on when the project aimed at offering long-term housing may be up and running, or if this change of course was a serious setback in construction plans.
Tony Gaspari has been the spokesperson for the business group who’s been in opposition, and he along with the others who made their way to council Monday to hear the decision were surprised and pleased with BC Housing’s change in tack, though they will be watching closely for what’s to come.
The proposed buildings, said Gaspari, were in no way suitable for the area.
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“My understanding is that they are used construction trailers that possibly came from the oil patch, and the pictures show they are stacked onto each other,” he said. “They didn’t meet development permit guidelines that the city enforces and we were concerned.”
Gaspari added that he and his peers are not opposed to social housing, so long as it meets design guidelines.
“If it was like the one on Tutt Street, or on St. Paul that would be different,” he said. “They are nice buildings and they meet the needs of people they want to house. We would be happy to have them. We see the situation up and down the corridor — we understand the situation.”
The provincial government announced via news release on Dec. 1 that it would be developing 55 supportive housing units in the Mill Creek Commerce Park.
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