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REPORTING · 22nd August 2014
Walter McFarlane
The Kingfisher housing development came up again at the Regular Meeting of Council on August 18th continuing the public hearing which started on July 28th. The bylaw would increase the density on the piece of land from 40 units of housing up to 53 units of housing.

Council was told that the bylaw was going before Council for 3rd reading later that night, which would require finally closing the public hearing process for this development.

A report to Council dated 14th of August explained the common concerns about the project and provided facts on them. The most common concern is that Kitimat does not need units because the past population was higher and adequate capacity exists at this time.

“Past populations of Kitimat had higher household size (Larger Families). Over the past twenty years, the average household size dropped from 3.2 to 2.4 and households consisting of one or two persons have become the dominant Kitimat household. If population remains stable, increased housing units are necessary to house greater number of households,” wrote Director of Community Planning, Gwendolyn Sewell.

She writes the units will be bigger than the bungalows in Kildala. The units will be bought by people who want new housing but could not afford the units in Strawberry Meadows and Forest Hills. They will be seen as a desirable home for a small family.

For traffic, she writes the current road was not constructed to municipal standards so it will be rebuilt by the developer. The rebuild will include sidewalks. As for parking, Sewell points out it is illegal to park on the streets in the wintertime and this will be the case. There will be spaces for additional parking.

Finally, there is the sewer capacity. “Downstream sewer capacity will be confirmed before more than 25 units are built. An engineering solution, if necessary is expected to be feasible, with all costs borne by Kingfisher Development Corp. Capacity in storm water lines and water mains is sufficient for this development. Should upgrades prove necessary, they would be undertaken by the developer,” wrote Sewell.

A letter was provided to Council Concerning the housing developments. “Our town is going nuts with this crazy densification of new housing developments applying for rezoning of already existing zoned sites,” read the letter. “The approval of the development in reference for ‘rezoning this tiny 2.6 acres’ of buildable land was, and continues to be wrong, not needed and in the future has the possibility of serious ‘economic consequences’ for all the residents of our street, our entire neighbourhood and for all of Kitimat.”

The letter explains the land was zoned for 40 high end units in 1991 with 9 metres between each building. Now it is being rezoned for 53 units ith 3.5 metres between each building.

“There is no need to start building this kind of chicken coops, or suburbia type of housing in Kitimat as is happening in Surrey, Port Coquitlam and so many other places in the lower mainland,” expressed the letter.

The letter states Margetts street has 17 single family houses and this development does not match the neighbourhood it is being put into. It points out this is not what Clarence Stein envisioned for a modern community of up to 50,000 people when Kitimat was designed.

“If he would see what we are doing now, when our population has not even reached 15,000, he would be turning in his grave,” said the letter.

“Moreover, because Kitimat is in our national and regional news just about every day and the hype of housing construction here is in full swing, the potential for financial risk of over building will possibly be passed on from the present developers who are eager to make huge profits, to the future owners of what is being built now. As most of you know so well, we have already been down this road many times before!”

The letter is signed: The residents of Margetts Street.

Spencer Edwards asked: “Is there a strategic long term plan, long term vision for the development of Kitimat. Does it simply involve industry or a diverse range that’s in place, and if that plan is in place, is it possible to view it at some point.”

He asked how it is being implemented, by Council or by stakeholders. He was told this amendment does not require a change to the OCP, just to the code. The area is zoned for multifamily, but it is heavier zoning then what it is zoned for. This is one of Council’s tasks.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff told him: “Online, there is an official community plan which took input from the whole community a number of years ago, it is in place. At the moment, when there are certain proposals requiring a change to the OCP, in this case, there is not a change to the OCP.”

Edwards wanted to know if Council knew how much housing is required. Mayor Joanne Monaghan replied the Council is doing a housing study right now. It will be finished in mid-September. She suggested Edwards make an appointment with the planning department so he could have all of his questions answered at one time.

Edwards stated it was clear in the documentation on the Kingfisher development prior to the 20th century that the protection of the woodland was important. The plan was a high end development. He asked if the current development would be high end.

Deputy CAO Warren Waycheshen stated the quality would not come through until this development reaches the development permit stage. They could not hold it to any standards outside the development phase.

Edwards wanted to know how much research to make sure the ravine would be secure for the long term. He was told it would be retained by the owner or owners if it is a strata development. They would be responsible for the site because the slopes are in the footprint of the property.

Carl Whicher wanted to make two points. He asked Council to consider the liability to the residents of Margetts Street because there would not be as high an end development next door to them. It would not correspond with their housing. He asked them to consider their liability and their wishes.

His second point was that there was always a plan to put a development next to the golf course which would synergize with it and appeal to high end golfers and people who were choosing Kitimat as a place to retire. The tax payers support this golf course.

“I ask you to consider that by approving this development, you are cutting yourself off from approving a development that might attract some people, avid golfers to purchase a property very close to the golf course and live there,” said Whicher.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated if he was aware the developer wanted to add an additional 13 units. The 40 units were decided in 1991. He wanted to know what sort of liability he was talking about. Whicher said the Margetts property was valuable and it would be next door to unappealing units. The close buildings would not appeal to a golf course crowd and three story units would not appeal to retirees.

“I do believe that you are transferring some liability to the residents of Margetts Street over and above what’s there now for a unit limit on that site. I would ask you to consider that very carefully on their behalf’s. They have some rights, given that many of them purchased that property knowing what was going to be permitted next door. Now that’s changed. I think that’s more significant than forty to 53,” said Whicher.

Empinado stated this was zoned for 40 in 1991 and now people were concerned because of the 13 units. 40 units are already allowed there. Whicher stated there would be less liability if 40 units were built. He said it would also be a better benefit to the people of Kitimat if they built a development to support the golf course.

After a bit of debate, it was determined that the public hearing would be reconvened on 7:30 pm on the 15th of September, after Council has had time to study the initial draft of the Provincial Strategic Housing Study on Kitimat.

Councillor Germuth stated he could wait for the study on several of the developments, but not this one because 13 were not as significant as the 217 on Liard and Nadina. Goffinet stated other developments would use this as precedence on larger projects.

The motion was called and carried. Third reading was put off to a later meeting.
just some points on home based business
Comment by roguemc on 26th August 2014
Not all home based business is bad. If you are operating a business that involves your employees picking up vehicles and equipment through out the day, or customers parking on the street all hours of the day then sure, I wouldn't want that either. There needs to be clear rules in place to prevent abuse, on the other hand an electrician, plumber, mobile auto mechanic etc. should be able to designate some portion of his/her home for office space and the storage of some supplies. Revenue Canada allows tax breaks for such businesses and this practice reduces carbon foot print as well.
You Should Get What You Paid For...
Comment by Larry Walker on 23rd August 2014
The people living in that area have made a pretty good argument. If you are smart, you look at the surrounding plans for land development and buy accordingly (OCP). I feel that if you can afford it, you want property that will afford you the best enjoyment and these set backs accomplish that. If you want to park your boat, your motorhome, your rv you have the space. Of course the town must have controls in place to ensure they don't build any permanent structure there nor that it is not used as an access point to store all their junk in the back yard or heaven for bid, start up a business and work it out of their home.

That said, the town has no right to change the rules in the middle of the game just so a developer can make more money. That is how I see it.
It seems alot...
Comment by FayEllen McFarlane on 22nd August 2014
Yes, it seems like we're getting a lot of new housing. But, isn't it exciting to drive around and see all the development going on? Wow! I've lived here for 26 years - (can't believe that!) but in all that time, I have never seen so many new houses, new apartments, new hotels and new accommodations. Isn't it wonderful to see all this happening? It was so sad to see Methanex and Eurocan close. and disappointing to see many businesses close and residents move on. But now people are starting to take a chance on Kitimat, and I think we should welcome and support the new business, industry, and people who are coming here to make their lives!
Its time to move on, Kitimat! Quit being negative and grab on to the future!
If they loose their shirt - I'm sorry, but in the meantime lets encourage our community to prosper!
affordable and high density housing
Comment by roguemc on 22nd August 2014
Here is a quote from an article I found online;
'When people argue against new high-density and affordable housing, they often use myths to convince decision-makers that the new development and its residents don’t belong there. Traffic will be too heavy and schools will grow overcrowded. The buildings will clash with existing neighborhoods. The people won’t fit in. Maybe they'll even be criminals.." Here is a link, http://www.abag.ca.gov/services/finance/fan/housingmyths2.htm
Its an interesting article and worth a read if you're weighing in on this local need.
It might interest some, that those who speak so highly of our local golf coarse haven't even taken their time to rate it. Have a quick look at Golf-courses.ca, our Kitimat coarse ranks 0 out of 6, while Terrace scores 6 out of 6. Even Prince Rupert scores a 3 out of 6. One would think that those who feel so strongly about our Golf coarse would at least show some effort to promote it, and not just when there's something at stake for them. One last thing, golf is not just for old cigar smoking retirees anymore, every one is playing these days and high density housing nearby will bring in young energetic people that could mean a real boost to the golf coarse.