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REPORTING · 2nd October 2014
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Council denied the rezoning application for low income housing on Blueberry Street at their Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday, September 29th. This comes two weeks after Council denied the rezoning application for an additional 13 units of housing on Kingfisher behind Margetts Street.

The development was brought forth by John and Paolo Rigoni is to increase the amount of units at 4 Blueberry in Strawberry Meadows to 14 townhouses, each with a secondary suite, creating 24 units of housing. Half of the townhouses will be sold at a cost to the developer in an attempt to create housing for low income families.

Council was presented with several letters and a petition with 49 names on it telling them to decline the rezoning. Most notably among them was a letter in opposition from Jack Oviatt, the developer who created Strawberry Meadows.

“My vision of Strawberry Meadows was not to have multifamily intertwined with single family dwellings,” wrote Oviatt. “If you allow random lot owners to rezone residential lots to multifamily within the subdivision boundaries, you will set a precedent and opened yourselves up to the potential of many lot owners wishing to capitalize by doing the same thing”

Oviatt expressed he has already done his part to increase density in Strawberry Meadows by allowing a 2400 man camp to build in the subdivision and by creating Blackberry Estates. He pointed out the planners of Kitimat did not allow for rural residential housing and they have provided people who desire acreage living within the limits of the District.

“Do not allow a perceived need for more housing in Kitimat to destroy my vision and the original intent of the development. Strawberry Meadows is now home to some of the most expensive well keep [sic] homes in Kitimat, by downgrading the zoning, it will affect all of the lot owners property values in the Meadows,” wrote Oviatt.

The Advisory Planning Committee was concerned about how viable an option this would be to low income families and questioned whether a low income family would be able to rent out the secondary suite to help pay for their mortgage. However, they gave the project their blessing.

The Housing Committee had similar concerns and questioned the increase density as well, but expressed gratitude for the Rigoni’s for attempting to create low income housing.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to reject the rezoning of Blueberry Avenue.

“I know that the Rigoni’s wanted to present again tonight. I have reflected upon what everybody has written and I have put myself into the boots of the people living next door to what is being proposed and it is just not fair, in my opinion. It is one thing to rezone neighbouring streets with a significant buffer, it’s another to rezone one lot on a street that people have moved to with an understanding of what the zoning will be,” said Feldhoff.

He said he would save the developer another trip to Kitimat. He was hoping to have the development take place in another part of the community, such as a city owned lot. However, 4 Blueberry was: ‘just not right.’

Councillor Rob Goffinet stated he wanted to give the proponent another chance to speak. However, he agreed the ‘extreme densification’ was not keeping with the original design and spirit of Strawberry Meadows.

“In addition to that, tonight, we’re discussing if there was a strategic demonstrable need on behalf of Kitimat to have such housing, we might look at this again. But I think this demonstrates, in all of our discussion, there appears at this moment, no objective need for the large, rapid number of developed units in Kitimat,” said Goffinet.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated the APC and the Housing Committee have concerns to the level of affordability. The housing committee is concerned about increasing density. He thanked the Rigoni’s for attempting to take some pressure off of the housing issues in the community of Kitimat. However, the proposal was not consistent with the surrounding properties.

The motion was called and carried unanimously.
Not low income... but affordable... but housing..
Comment by Stacey on 6th October 2014
I appreciate this wasn't low income housing. But even balancing the market some will help. It will take people who can afford it out of lower quality housing and into something they want. In turn freeing up the lower quality housing and eventually should see a reduction to the lower quality housing if it has to compete with brand new housing.

What some people are living in, at 1400-1500$ a month in kitimat currently is shameful and disgusting in some cases and I am quite sure they would have loved to have a shiny brand new place. The fact is there is a housing crisis, and while people don't want housing built anywhere it appears... it HAS to go somewhere. So nimbyism prevails and the people suffer.
Comment by bill on 6th October 2014
If you took the time to read the proposal this was not low income housing. The proposal was for affordable housing, which only requires the pricing to be 20% less than market value. Therefore the purchases prices were to be $366,000 & rents $1400/mo. If that is low income then pigs can fly. Please know the facts before you comment.
housing unfair to all
Comment by rockergrl on 4th October 2014
the council has no right to discriminate against low income housing, Low income families need low income housing since kitimat people are getting greedy in raising rents too high for anyone to afford and they'll be more people hungery and starving and that cause of our town council that keep putting money in their pockets and not doing good for kitimat . they mayor and some council are unfair and predjudice agaisnt'the poor as they don't help the poor or low income families. If kitimat had heart they do a lot more to do what right to help the poor and low income as god say we should do. AS kitimat has allowed camp worker to rent our home for outrages prices that's unfair also to them to get soak them for money also. Kitimat has gone to dogs and so has our town council , they only do what benefits them not for the good of the people of kitiamt their greedy selfish and heartless people god forgive them for their greediness and unfairness lower the rents your greedy people before kitimat become a ghost town as once the camp workers leave so will the good people of kitiamt already has as god say to help the poor that means don't get greedy , lower rents as god says greedy will fall kitimat already falling and it's not a good town to live in housing is unfair un reasonable and no job for men to support their families their living in tents and trailors or on the dike or in their vehicle that's our mayor doing and our town counsil and the greedy people of kitimat for their cruelty to other kitimat has no heart or compassin
Comment by concerned resident on 4th October 2014
This town is in desperate need of low income and disabled assisted housing something has to be done somewhere soon or we are in for a big problem in our little town
Comment by bill on 2nd October 2014
For once council has listened to its citizens.

They deserve an award!