Kimberley City Council hears from community, developer at public hearing regarding proposed development at 455 Phillips Road. Paul Rodgers photo.

Pros and cons weighed at public hearing for Phillips Rd. multi-unit residential development proposal

The City of Kimberley has been considering an amendment to a zoning bylaw that would rezone a property located at 455 Phillips Road near Selkirk Secondary from Residential Multiple Family zone (R-3) to Residential Multiple Family zone (R-3b) in order to allow a multi-unit residential rental development.

At their regular meeting on Monday, April 11, Kimberley City Council held an electronic public hearing allowing the voices of residents both opposed and in support to be heard, as well as comments from Cal Harvey, president of Tribus Developments, the company behind the proposed development.

READ MORE: Residential rental development proposed for Phillips Road in Kimberley

The development would consist of studio, one and two bedroom units, with the developer citing that it would meet numerous needs outlined in the Housing Needs Assessment received by council in June, 2021. Council gave first two readings to the zoning bylaw that would allow the development on March 14.

READ MORE: Kimberley Council receives housing needs study

At the April 11 meeting, following the public hearing, Council debated and subsequently passed the third reading and adopted the bylaw.

One of the residents who called in, a resident of the neighbourhood, said they don’t like the plan for four reasons: that the scenery of the rocky mountains would be blocked, that it would disrupt wildlife, that there is already enough new buildings elsewhere to address Kimberley’s housing needs and finally the safety concerns.

The latter was brought up by several other residents who called in, voicing concerns about what the impact of increased traffic imposed by new residents in the area would have on a neighbourhood with narrow streets with no sidewalks, blind intersections and steep hills that become treacherous in the winter.

Numerous residents also submitted letters expressing their concerns, with many stating they felt that the current R-3 zoning is more than sufficient, and that anything more would be a major disruption to the quiet, single-family neighbourhood.

“I think that if you actually live in this neighbourhood a lot of us moved to this neighbourhood and bought in this neighbourhood because it’s a very quiet, quiet neighbourhood, doubling the population is going to absolutely change it and the safety reasons are huge for me,” one caller told council.

Beginning his address, Harvey said that throughout the zoning amendment process there’s been discussion of Kimberley’s housing needs assessment that’s discussed “facts, figures and statistics,” and that he’d like to shift gears to share the experience of people who are struggling to find housing in Kimberley.

According to Harvey, a Tribus-owned rental development in Townsite recently advertised a two-bedroom suite that is soon to become available. It received 56 applications in 36 hours. Applicants included teachers, a community health nurse, a single mom and a doctor having second thoughts about a one-year locum in Kimberley due to being unable to find anywhere to live, Harvey said.

“We can’t adequately house our seniors and vulnerable citizens. Professionals who are essential to the physical and economic health of our community are struggling to rent,” Howard said. “Kimberley is a small town that has a big-city housing problem.

“We’re trying to help fix that.”

Many residents have expressed they feel that the current R-3 zoning is sufficient as that would allow for 23 units, rather than the 46 that Tribus’ development proposes under an R-3b zoning.

Harvey explained that the current R-3 allows for 23 large 3 or 4 bedroom homes, which if occupied by two parents and two children, is 92 new residents to the area.

“We are proposing 46 much smaller homes to meet the needs of a different demographic,” he said. “A mix of studio and one bedroom and two bedroom suites.

“So if we assume that two parents and a child live in the two bedroom units, a couple lives in the one bedroom unit and the studio suites are occupied by a single person that’s 82 occupants.

“455 Phillips rezoned and developed as we propose will introduce 10 per cent fewer residents to the neighbourhood than we would be allowed to build right now.”

Traffic was the biggest concern brought up, and Harvey said he empathized with the residents of that neighbourhood, but that currently, outside of end and beginning of school hours, the area is relatively calm with no through traffic.

“We welcome a fulsome discussion with council about traffic during the development permit phase,” he said. “And we will share with you the research, showing that vehicle ownership rates for purpose-built rental developments are less than half of those for single family homes.”

Finally, Harvey said that as Tribus sought public input the number-one question, tied with input pertaining to traffic, was “How do I get my name on a rental waiting list?”

“455 is pedestrian friendly, it’s adjacent to a school, it’s 300 metres from the Platzl, it’s 285 metres from a transit stop. There is no better property in Kimberley for a purpose-built rental development and we would ask that council approve our rezoning amendment and let us get on with building some much-needed rental housing.”

Following the public hearing, council had a debate on third reading and subsequently passed both the third reading and adopted the bylaw.

That zoning is now approved, however the developer still needs to submit their development permit and work with planning staff to finalize the requirements of the development permit.

Mayor Don McCormick said that this is the first of what he hopes to be several multi-unit rental buildings to be constructed in Kimberley, and that the 46 units this proposal would add don’t scratch the surface of the demand that exists here.

With Kimberley growing at a rate of around 1.75 per cent per or 150 people per year, and having a vacancy rate of essentially zero, there is simply a need for more buildings, and a need to live smaller as it’s the only way to achieve affordability, McCormick said.

He added that any time development proposals come up, these sorts of concerns are brought up, even when it’s a single family home being developed.

Councillor McBain said that traffic has always been challenging in this particular neighbourhood, and this development highlights the need to look more broadly at solutions down the line for getting people up and down that hill safely.

“These [concerns] are well identified, they’re well known, they’re well understood and work still needs to be done on how exactly that’s going to be addressed,” McCormick said.

“And in fact a lot of the issues that have been brought up, as was mentioned by a couple of councillors, these issues of snow removal and narrow streets and so on have been there for a long time and in fact this development may in fact be the catalyst to resolving some of these problems that we can have some control over.”



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

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