Proposed development in Lake Country calls for micro-dwellings, commercial space

As more people struggle with the cost of housing, Lake Country development proposing cheaper micro-suites at old Timber-Mart

  • Mar. 28, 2016 12:00 p.m.

The old Timber Mart building on the corner of Bottom Wood Lake Road and Woodsdale Road is the site of a development proposal that is calling for commercial space underneath 150 residential units

Micro-dwellings could be coming to Lake Country.

A new development proposed for the location of the old Timber Mart location on Woodsdale Road in Winfield calls for the establishment of so-called micro-suites, smaller than normal living quarters normally associated with larger urban centres, but becoming more of a reality across the country.

“The whole idea of micro-suites and smaller homes is gaining traction and we are seeing a (housing) trend in that way,” said Lake Country planner Paul Dupuis. “You’re starting to see this because of the affordability of housing. People are looking to downsize.”

In Lake Country, there is no planning designation for micro-suites although the development proposal for the old Timber Mart has the district proposing to include micro-dwelling units as a new permitted use, allowing units between 29 and 45 square metres (312 to 484 square feet). Units larger than 45 square metres would be considered apartment housing units.

Dupuis said the concept isn’t surprising due to the price of owning a home in the Okanagan as well as rental prices.

“It’s not cheap to live in the Okanagan and I think you’re starting to see the market address the issue,” he said. “The technology and the design coming out today is more advanced. You’re using the same amount of space more effectively.”

The proposed development at the old Timber Mart calls for the construction of two new buildings creating about 150 residential units over commercial floor space. Forty-two per cent of the residential units would be considered micro-suites. Underground parking is also proposed.

If given the go ahead, the micro-dwellings would be allowed in specific areas of Lake Country. Planning staff say the Woodsdale Road area and the Town Centre area would be two areas that could allow the units because of the proximity to services and transit.

A report to Lake Country council points out several aspects of micro-dwelling units:

•Livability must be maintained when micro‐dwelling units are incorporated into development proposals. These units, due to their reduced size and smaller window areas must ensure good exposure to natural daylight and fresh air.

•Micro‐dwelling units typically have the living space, food preparation, utility and sleeping areas in one contiguous space. Good sound separation between units, out of suite storage and outdoor living space are key livability considerations.

•This conceptual proposal has “Juliette” balconies which are an important consideration for livability and emergency response.

•Micro‐dwelling units are a new concept to the District of Lake Country. Staff is supportive of the concept for this property.

The proposal was brought forward to Lake Country council in January, where council gave it two readings and sent the matter to public hearing before any decisions are made. The date for the public hearing has not been set as the developer has been asked to provide a traffic impact assessment as well as a hydrological assessment of the area to determine if mitigation from the risk of flooding is necessary.

The Timber Mart officially closed on December 31, 2013.

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