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Kamloops approved a 40-unit apartment building with just 16 parking spaces

A 40-unit rental complex with 16 parking spots on Kamloops' North Shore was approved by city council yesterday.

Staff brought the proposal for 501 Tranquille Road to council and recommended that the development proposal be denied because of its parking deficit, which bylaw requirements suggest should have at least 41 parking spaces.

Mayor and councillors weighed their options between denying the bylaw variance application, compelling the developer to explore more offsite parking, or simply letting it pass before voting to allow the apartment to be built 25 spaces short of its parking requirement.

"I don't see why we'd constrain (the developer) with these rules, and I think we need to start being a bit more bold in our developments," Coun. Dennis Walsh said at the July 20 council meeting.

He suggested that because the Tranquille Corridor has access to city transit and it is a flat area ideal for active transportation, the neighbourhood is an ideal location for a less car-centric development.

The development, owned by EAS Holdings Limited, will have a six-storey, 40-unit affordable rental complex once complete. Five of those suites are set to be designated as social housing.

Mayor Ken Christian raised the concern that a lack of parking spaces would be a recipe for a parking spillover into street parking on Tranquille Road, Yew Street and Oak Road, near the proposed apartment.

"It sounds like a very utopian environment with non car-dependent tenants, but the market will dictate who those tenants are. They will avail themselves of parking in that vicinity," Christian said. "Because we don't have restrictions, we will see visitors and residents in that core area."

He, along with Coun. Dieter Dudy, preferred to compel the developer to explore further parking options offsite. That option would mean the developer could find a suitable lot to offer additional parking at a maximum of 90 metres from the apartment.

While councillors in support of the variance spoke of "bold moves" and looking "outside the box," Coun. Dale Bass noted that approving the proposal would not only address affordability concerns, but also speak to the City's efforts to promote active transportation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

City staff noted the concerns that it could set a precedent, and while council has discussed changing parking requirement bylaws, those decisions have not yet been made.

A variance such as this has been noted in Kelowna, too, at the Sole on KLO Road where there are 28 parking stalls for a 54-unit building. None of those spaces are designated for visitors. However, a notable difference at Sole is that there is no street parking available on KLO Road, where the building is located.

Council's decision to approve the development left Christian concerned that other developers could watch this decision and take note for future developments. He noted that while parking spaces are an expensive portion of a development, easing costs for tenants, it can also encourage developers to pursue a similar variance to avoid construction costs.

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