Kimberley City Staff to prepare report for Council on bylaw changes that could be made to accommodate higher density building. Paul Rodgers file.

Kimberley City Staff to prepare report for Council on bylaw changes that could be made to accommodate higher density building. Paul Rodgers file.

Increased height just one option for increased density: City report

At a City Council meeting in February, Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick put forward a motion asking staff for a report on the implications of increasing the allowable building height in Kimberley to as many as six stories.

Staff came back with the report at the April 11 meeting where it was received by Council. Staff will now assess the considerations from the report, of which building height is just one, and prepare a new report for Council on particular bylaw changes that could be made to accommodate higher building density.

READ MORE: City of Kimberley looks at raising maximum building height to six stories

“We’re pointing out in the report that there’s multiple ways to consider adding density and trying to achieve improved housing affordability in the community,” explained Manager of Planning Services Troy Pollock.

Increasing height is certainly one of the options, Pollock continued, and although there are different height limitations in different zones in the community, there are fairly standard heights in most multi-unit residential zones or mixed-use commercial residential zones.

“It’s possible that we can certainly look at some potential zoning changes to allow for some general height increase,” Pollock said. “It’s really important that we review those things on a bit more of a case by case basis or in terms of areas that do have existing capacity or different existing conditions that really make it easier or more efficient for providing water and sewer or providing fire fighting capacity.”

Something Kimberley has been doing a lot of is distributing population density throughout the community, and Pollock thinks more can be done in that regard.

For example, assessing opportunities to make better use of existing sites that have existing services and existing service capacity, to allow for more moderate density in more areas of the city. This could help avoid potentially contentious zoning amendment or zoning proposals in the future, if the City looks to amend multiple zones or multiple areas in the community to allow for additional density.

“We’re not talking a high number of multiple stories, just if an area allows for one or two units now, maybe there’s a way to allow for additional secondary units or a three-plex or a four plex,” Pollock explained. “We can put some sort of different expectations for if it’s a larger site in an existing neighbourhood to allow for additional units or if it’s a single family zone only, then maybe there’s provision or capacity to allow for at least a secondary suite or something like that.”

Pollock went on to say that while Kimberley has made good progress in recent years to diversify its housing supply, its still, like many communities in North America, predominantly single-family residential developments.

“That’s one of the ways that we can really help to improve housing affordability is by providing more options throughout the community and help to further diversify that housing supply,” he said.

READ MORE: Kimberely Council receives housing needs study

Kimberley’s Housing Needs Study indicated a need for smaller units such as single and two bedroom units and even studios. Pollock said that there could be numerous single family homes or duplexes in Kimberley with the potential to allow for an accessory unit within them.

“That could be a very small unit, for a single person, maybe two people, but there’s just so many opportunities that way,” Pollock said.

McCormick said that when he put the original notice of motion forward, it was height that was the main motivation for it, but what he’s learned from the report is that it really is a “balance of many different requirements that go into determining what works best.”

“I think Colette Manor might have been the last apartment block that was built in Kimberley, and that was 30 years ago,” McCormick said. “It’s been a long, long time since there’s been that kind of building going on, so it’s no surprise that it’s a change that folks are looking at and it just seems appropriate that we go back and take a look at recommendations that you and staff may have.”


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