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REPORTING · 8th October 2014
Walter McFarlane
On Monday, October 5th, Kerkhoff presented again to Council with a second change for Riverbrook Estates. Come back tomorrow to learn more.

Leonard Kerkhoff, development Manager of Riverbrook Estates was at the Kitimat City Council Committee of the Whole Meeting on September 29th with a few changes to his proposal.

“Previously, we had 51 units in the townhome phase 1 phase. We have reduced that count to 47 units. Similarly on the 2nd phase, we reduced it from 50 units down to 46 units. We are also proposing to reduce the apartments down from 50 units, down to 45 units per apartment, reducing our total unit from 217 down to 199,” said Kerkhoff.

There will be two rows of houses now instead of three. The houses will have extra green space in the middle and an extra walkway. He showed Council concept images of what it would look like.

There is also a change at Konigus street. One of the buildings which sits slightly on the property line would develop parking problems due to the sidewalk which is proposed to go through there. Riverbrook estates is going to work with the owner, by dedicating a portion of their land too his property and still provide a walkway from Riverbrook to Riverlodge.

There is 10% increase in greenspace, a 20% decrease in road surface area and 12% decrease in proposed floor area.

He went into the concerns which have been brought forward about the project. He expressed that skyrocketing single family homes have led to homes being more expensive on the market and he expressed this will not stop. It will be a phased construction with 45-46 units with construction being completed as market demands.

They will be using green spaces as buffers between the townhouses and the existing houses.

“Affordability, the municipality can be supplying the housing industry needs as required. Industry is telling us that they require new housing, they don’t like older homes. The social impact of renoviction and all sorts of other situations caused by fixing up old products and relocating existing tenants,” said Kerkhoff.

“We can’t predict the future but we can look at what the facts are now. The facts are, there is a high demand for housing, low vacancy rates which is a result of not enough product on the market,” said Kerkhoff.

He explained there are 90 homes on the market now and half a dozen are in the townhomes. The need for housing is high and the cost is also high. The housing in Kitimat is aging and the new product would be beneficial to Kitimat. New product would serve the District for a long time.

If the Kitimat LNG does not proceed, they will just be putting in the first phase of townhouses which would replace the product which is in Kitimat and Derelict, the Alexander and Whitesail Townhouses. It will also serve as housing for new families who would be working for Rio Tinto Alcan.

“Our Target Market has been the industry executives moving into town over the construction short term which is 5-10-15 years and the operational staff of these new facilities in the long term. With the new product, our emphasis is the $150,000 to $400,000 market, not the single family,” said Kerkhoff.

They also plan on making improvements around the area which will be beneficial to the District of Kitimat. He expressed it would be good for Kitimat to have a variety of high quality homes, like they are building at Baxter, to be available in the community.

Council had a number of questions for clarification. Councillor Phil Germuth asked if the District of Kitimat had any options to control what phases would go next. He was told they do not know if they could regulate the proposal. Council was told they may need the consent of the developer to specifically phase approval.

Outside the meeting, opponents of the proposal suggested Council’s turning down of the zoning application on Kingfisher may have affected the number of units. They suspected the turning down of Blueberry may have had an additional impact… Regardless of the Speculation, Kerkhoff came to Council again on Monday, October 5th with a change in the plan.