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REPORTING · 23rd July 2014
Walter McFarlane
Housing developments took up some of Council’s time on Monday, July 21st. The first of these on the agenda was an amendment for zoning for Riverbrook Estates. Leonard Kerkhoff of Kerkhoff construction presented to Council on the housing development.

“We’re making an application to subdivide and re-zone a 27 acre parcel at the end of Nadina and Liard and Konigus. It’s a fairly large site so it’s not easily done,” said Kerkhoff. “The site is 27 acres in total. 14.4 of that is currently zoned R1B. It was previously approved for a single family lot set back in the 1980s. The remaining 13 acres is zoned G5 which is a forestry zoning and it’s got a no build covenant related to flood covenant.”

He expressed that this application only dealt with the 14.4 acres. They want to rezone it to create a subdivision of 16 single family lots, 2 parcels for townhouses and 2 parcels for apartments. They are proposing to extend Nadina and one of the Liard streets. The Liard Street between the two will end in a cul-de-sac with a green space system attached to the park.

“For the initial application, in the next month or so, we’ll be making an application for a development permit as well, in its initial phase, it is a fairly large development so we are going to take it off in bite sized and see what the market is going to do over the next coming months and years. What we are hoping to do is a development permit for 51 town homes. They would be conventional, not a stacked town home type,” said Kerkhoff.

They are working on a variety of housing styles, from 1 bedroom to 3 bedroom and even some Batchelor pads.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked if there was going to be another access route other than the two streets. He was told the two Liard Streets not looping was confusing. They plan to terminate the centre one with a cul-de-sac.

The reason for this is they felt a lot of the traffic would funnel through it and out the other side of Liard. By doing it this way, Kerkhoff expressed the traffic would be split 50/50 between the two outside roads. There is only a sliver of land going out to Konigus, not enough for them to build a road.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan asked if there were plans to put in low income housing. “We are working right now with BC housing on the one apartment building,” said Kerkhoff. “We are also putting in an adaptable clause in the report. There would be up to 8 units which would be fairly easy to modify to be accessible units.”

The plan is for BC Housing to take over the apartment, so 50 units in the apartment would be affordable.

Councillor Phil Germuth asked, of the housing, which will be for sale and which will be rentals. He was told they would sell it all. Some would be purchased by investors but all would be on the open market.

There were no other questions so Kerkhoff sat down. Mayor Joanne Monaghan stated this sounded like an interesting project.

A memo to Council went into further detail about what would be created. There would be 16 single family units, 101 townhouses and 2 apartments with 50 units each. The required zoning change would turn the lots into the newly created R3-C Zone, Multifamily. At the moment, the land is zoned for 80 units, although it was zoned back in 1981. This development would include a strip of park, 6 metres long which would run through the middle of it.

Councillor Mary Murphy made a motion to accept the consideration, give it first reading, refer it to the Advisory Planning Commission and the Housing Committee, schedule a public hearing for August 18th and grant approval to issue public notice.

Councillor Rob Goffinet wanted to issue public notice to the neighbourhood rather then cut off the notice at 90 metres. He was told they should look at Liard and Nadina Streets. Councillor Phil Germuth wanted to see a map so they would know who fell outside the 90 metre zone.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know if there would be a community open house. It was a large proposal, exciting, but there might be some concern from the neighbours.

One Councillor was opposed to the recommendation. “Back in 1952, Clarence Stine designed this community for us. It was planned out for well over 20,000 people. At this point, we’re nowhere near there. With the Alcan Modernization, even if we get the LNGs and the support industries that follow those, we still aren’t going to be over 20,000 people. I see no point in trying to jam, possibly 217 families into the space where 80 should be going. This is not Vancouver, this is still Kitimat,” said Germuth.

He expressed there was nothing wrong with properties with yards and driveways. He wanted to know where the children would play.

Germuth pointed out that Council had a document which was supposed to be used to guide Council, the official community plan.

“Why even have an Official Community Plan with zoning regulations if we basically ignore it and do major changes like this where we’re actually going to create another zone of residential area. We should not be considering, in my opinion, having such a density increase in such a small area when we still have existing areas that have not been redeveloped. We should let those areas be redeveloped first, if we feel the need after that, then go ahead and approve something like this if we need it down the road,” said Germuth.

He stated there were 85 houses on the market through real estate and more which were being sold by the owner. Germuth questioned whether or not this development was in the community’s best interest. An investor would want to put as many units into one area to maximize profit. However, it was the job of Council to use the Official Community Plan to Guide them.

Murphy expressed the Council has been creating a density bonus which they have been working towards. “I’m sure that what we’re looking at now is scrapping that proposal and sticking to what we’re dealing with now is the community plan as it sits or, if it is a living document, we’re making changes and going with some of our goals,” said Murphy.

Goffinet said they were testing the perspective of the Official Community Plan. They are accepting the development permit without prejudice for consideration. He said there will be a community open house on August 6th at Riverlodge.

Germuth asked administration what happens to the pollution control center contribution when the zoning goes from 80 houses to 217. He also wanted to know why this was not required to do so. He was told the development would be subject to this and it was an ongoing discussion.

Councillor Edwin Empinado clarified there would be park added into the area. Germuth pointed out this park was 18’ of land.

Empinado asked if this was over capacity. He was told it was premature to predict what would happen over time. The development would be built as demand allows. The District of Kitimat is currently forecasting population with the province and they will know more as these studies come in.

“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to release land to market or to start housing projects which do not have demand for them. A wise developer will only build what will be purchased. Not what will remain vacant,” said City Planner, Gwendolyn Sewell.

Germuth pointed out that creating new stock would take away the incentive to buy the existing units in town and fix them up. He pointed out the Official Community Plan is to redevelop the existing units before moving into a new area.

The motion was called and carried, given it first reading.