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CMHA propose 30 more affordable housing units for Vernon

October 16, 2019 - 5:30 PM

Vernon could have 30 more units of affordable housing as the Canadian Mental Health Association moves forward with a plan to expand its Albert Place location.

City council approved the first step in allowing for 30 units to be built by the Canadian Mental Health Association in partnership with B.C. Housing and Interior Health at its Oct. 15 meeting.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has proposed to expand the number of units at Albert place to include an additional eight bachelor units, along with 22 units ranging from two to four bedrooms.

Currently, Albert Place, located at 3610 25 Ave, consists of 17 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom apartment.

The rezoning application also requested a variance to allow the project to include a far smaller number of parking spaces than a regular apartment or row house building would ordinarily be allowed.

The completed 48-unit site would usually be required to have 77 parking stalls. The current proposal asked for 32 stalls.

Currently, the existing building has 36 parking spaces of which seven are used by the building's residents. Council heard how the majority of tenants the Canadian Mental Health Association will house are likely not to drive due to mobility and economic issues. The report also points out the building is a 10 minute walk to downtown Vernon.

City staff presented the project and stated a reduction in parking is permitted if the project offers a public benefit such as affordable housing or an agreement was made.

However, the proposal didn't sit well with councillor Scott Anderson.

"I went over the parking study thoroughly," Coun. Anderson said. "I've got some real problems with it."

Councillor Anderson said he understood the reasoning for the reduced parking stalls, but was concerned when the Canadian Mental Health Association left the site, the zoning would remain. While the Canadian Mental Health Association has owned the building for nearly 30 years Anderson said they would still move "some day."

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming also raised an issue with the development.

"I have some significant concerns with 24 Ave... not having a sidewalk on the north side of the street, in the long term is a significant issue," the mayor said.

While Mayor Cumming accepted the City's transportation plan only required a sidewalk on one side of the street the mayor asked staff to review the situation regarding the lack of a sidewalk.

"I don't want to hold up this particular application but I think that's got to go back to staff," Mayor Cumming said.

Council voted in favour of the variences allowing the project to move forward. Coun. Scott Anderson was the only vote against the project.

The project still has to go to a public hearing before a decision is made by council.

The public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Correction: This story was updated at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the project had been approved by council.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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