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REPORTING · 7th July 2014
Walter McFarlane
The Development Permit for townhouses on Kingfisher is coming before Council tonight, July 7th. The project last came before Council on June 9th, when a motion to increase the number of permitted townhouses on the site from 40-54 was negative. Council is being asked to waive the 6 months proposed waiting time to consider a new zoning amendment.

A report to Council explains they can waive this waiting period with a 2/3 agreement. Four members of Council will have to vote in favour of waiving the waiting period.

The proposal is for 54 three story townhouses with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room and room to park two cars under the house. There is a potential for a flex room which includes another bedroom and a bathroom in exchange for one of the spaces in the garage. The buildings will be stratified, controlled by the owners of the units.

On the 9th of June, the motion was negative with Councillors Goffinet, Murphy and Mayor Monaghan in Favour and Councillors Empinado, Feldhoff and Germuth opposed. At the time, they discussed the value of the density bonus, concerns of the neighbours on Margetts Street and the need for a meeting with said neighbours. Council debated on whether the latter had taken place prior to it coming to them.

In the case of the density bonus, it was pointed out the Developer filed his papers before Council decided to impose one.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed he did not wish to approve the 14 extra units because he had too many questions concerning the density bonus. Councillor Mary Murphy pointed out the Density bonus was a Council incentive and there had already been a lot of work on the project. She did not want Council to set the project back after being accused of dragging their feet when it comes to development.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan expressed it was getting late in the building season. Council was told at the time the developer only had two options if the motion was defeated: come back in six months or plan for 40 units.

“Council had better think very cautiously about putting someone in a situation where they would have to wait six months to come back,” warned Monaghan. Council was told it was expected for this project to take a couple of months before they could build, regardless.

Feldhoff stated he was not ready to give direction to a 54 unit complex. The developer bought land for a 40 unit complex. He expressed this is what the developer should develop. Council was advised to have another public hearing. Goffinet suggested the proponent meet with the public to see if they can get agreement to the 54 units.

As for the concerns of the people of Margetts Street, the Report to Council included several letters from concerned residents. Residents expressed concern that the Sewer Lift Station would not be able to handle the extra load from 54 units, about the increase in traffic, and about invasion of privacy by the housing development. One resident wanted to see the final plan as plans change.

While each letter expressed the resident was not opposed to the development, one person questioned whether or not the housing developments were necessary as the number of jobs which were promised to Kitimat was much less than what the community had in the 80s.

On July 2nd, residents of Margetts Street met with proponents at an open house at the Golf Course. “It was really just an opportunity in the community to kind of discuss, learn about and most importantly, comment on a town home site we’re proposing on Kingfisher, near the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club,” said Stuart McFadden, who was representing Kingfisher Development Corporation.

He expressed they were also there to ease the concerns the public may have about there being 54 units on a property. The public had not brought many of those concerns to him about an hour into the Open House.

He stated the units were successful in the lower mainland with the 50-55 + range. He does not know the selling price.

During the open house, we asked several residents about their concerns about the project.

One person told us he was worried that Kitimat would go back to the way it was a few years ago once the industrial boom is over with low rates for houses, empty houses and people from out of town sent here to hide them away. The difference being more housing and less employment.

Another person’s concern was that Kitimat’s footprint was expanding but the community needs to do something about the dilapidated buildings in town before building new stock.

We were given several documents concerning the history of this land including a report to Council dated 1990 from the Municipal Manager at the time, Jim Gustafson. The report talks about how the land was zoned for Multifamily housing, low density townhouses, back in the 1970s. It was zoned for this reason due to its awkward nature. A maximum of 69 townhouses were proposed for it but the project did not go ahead.

In 1989, a second project was proposed which would support 34 townhouses. These ones were bigger than the ones proposed in the 70s, and, due to the scale of the development, it was recommended that the zoning condition be limited to no more than 40 town houses. However, the floor plans of the house proposed in the 90s are bigger than the ones proposed for 2014.

One resident told us he returned home from the open house to find a letter notifying him about the open house had just arrived in his mailbox.