March 04, 2014 - 12:41 PM
KELOWNA – Developers of a new 1400 lot neighbourhood proposed for the southwest Mission have been given approval to prepare an Area Service Plan by a majority of city councillors Monday.
The motion passed with five of the nine councillors expressing support for the project moving to the initial planning stage however it was met with resistance from four Councillors who questioned whether the city needed so many new homes. Several questioned the impact such a large development would have on the infrastructure in the area.
The property is between Chute Lake Rd. and Bellevue Creek and is owned by Melcor Developments. Melcor is proposing the development of approximately 800 units in area one and an additional 600 units incorporated in area two some time in the future.
Long range planning manager Gary Stephens says the site is considered unique because council supported this area to be designated as future urban reserve within the permanent growth boundary. He, along with city planning staff, recommended to council that the applicant be authorized to proceed with an ASP to assess the viability of development on these properties. He says, while the economic slowdown has negatively affected the housing market, the long term housing needs are such the city must begin looking at areas to expand.
In preparation of the OCP review in 2007/2008, major property owners in the city were invited to make submissions with respect to future development of suburban locations. Those submissions, including the Thomson Flats proposal, were received in 2009.
"At the time, Council did not support more growth in the southwest Mission, but acknowledged the long term potential," Stephens says. "Staff was directed at that time to include Thomson Flats and Crawford Estates within the permanent growth boundary, but designated it as future urban reserve.
Counc. Andre Blanleil asked to see projected infrastructure impact costs, but said he felt it is a good time to proceed with the ASP.
“The sooner we get that information the better,” he says. “I’m not too fond of the idea of seeing this being ready for zoning in the next three or four years, I think inventory is high enough as it is, but I do want to see the actual infrastructure costs.”
The motion to approve the ASP was ultimately approved by a narrow margin. Four out of nine Councillors voted against moving forward with the plan. Those opposed include Councillors Stack, Given, Hobson and Singh.
“I’m of the mind that this is premature,” says Counc. Luke Stack. “It seems like we’re about five years ahead of the game and that this would be the appropriate discussion to have at the next OCP review. I’m reluctant to support this at this time.
"I don’t see why there’s an urgent need to do this and I do not see it being required within the next few years,” he says. “I think it should happen a little bit later.”
One of those in favour of moving forward was Mayor Walter Gray.
“It’s not an exact science trying to forecast the future, nobody’s invented that crystal ball yet, but we’re better to err on the side of oversupply as opposed to undersupply because if we have an undersupply then the cost of housing goes up,” says Gray. “I tend to not worry about doing an ASP ahead of time…and I support that.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014