By Jennifer Stahn
Three public hearings this week will showcase a trend in urban infill, a topic that some councillors in Kamloops have been known to praise as a way to encourage less environmental impacts and better space utilization.
With proposals for Westsyde, Powers Addition and North Shore on the agenda for the March 26 public hearing, council - who recently expressed interest in seeing more of a push for urban infill - should be pleased more people are looking at multi-family options.
Kamplan 2004 was adopted in 2005 as a way to help guide growth in the community. Residential development growth focuses on encouraging infill, intensification and full utilization of existing service capacity. The plan set out land use taking the city to a population of 120,000, or the year 2036.
According to planning and development manager Randy Lambright urban infill is on the rise, especially secondary suites and carriage houses, which saw notable increases following the establishment of regulations more specific to carriage houses and garden suites two years ago.
“I can definitely say there's been an increase in applicants the last few years,” said Lambright, and that includes all types of multi-family housing, from secondary suites straight through larger townhouse and apartment-style complexes.
Coun. Donovan Cavers has been one of the largest proponents of urban infill on council and is very happy to see residents continue to look for ways to tackle sustainable growth. From subdividing land to allow for more housing, to carriage suites and apartment complexes, Cavers would like to see the city focus on making sure it does not become a victim of urban sprawl, by growing up instead of out.
“The mantra of growth for the sake of growth is old,” Cavers recently noted.
Though he does not believe the three public hearings are indicative of a sudden surge in applications – rather just the result of clever planning by city staff – he is still happy to see the three applicants coming before council this week and hopes more people continue to look at ways to live more sustainably.
The largest project coming to public hearing this week is 772 Battle Street, where the Rarebirds Housing Co-operative are looking to get a site specific amendment that will allow up to 12 people to live in a single family house backing on to Guerin Creek. The house will have six separate bedrooms with living areas and bathrooms in addition to common areas like a kitchen, living room and an exercise room. There will be strict rules in place to ensure the Rarebirds do not turn the building into a boarding house.
Coun. Marg Spina is excited to see the group offering a “really innovative way to provide affordable housing and good community support” and wonders what type of feedback people will have on “this new trend.”
On Reemon Drive in Westsyde a one lot subdivision will allow a new house to be constructed if approved by council following the public hearing while council is also looking at rezoning Oak Road at Fortune Drive to allow a multi-family building that would be bought by the Kamloops Brain Injury Association following construction.
This project will see eight affordable housing units created as well a small office space and will go to social planning to allow for a $46,000 grant to be allocated from the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.
Council will also get the chance to send another project to public hearing as a rezoning application for 1415 Summit Drive (just south of the TransCanada Highway) is looking for a change from the arterial commercial (C-6) designation to a downtown multiple family – medium density (RM-2A) zoning. The application outlines a plan to build two 44-unit apartment style buildings located near several other apartment and townhouse style complexes and adjacent to transit and public walking trails.
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