New development with small home component set for public meeting

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
February 3rd, 2019

A new small home development proposed for an area on the north end of Grand Forks could prove to be the answer for the housing crunch in the city.

The city has given the first two readings on a bylaw to create a new comprehensive development zone to accommodate creation of a mobile home park and ecological reserve — north of Boundary Drive — opening it up for a forthcoming public meeting.

The project proposal could see 15 sites with manufactured homes — in the 500- to 800-square-foot range — offered for a target price of well under $100,000.

Vadim Kobasew, owner of Osoyoos-based Orchard Lane Properties and the three acres of the proposed development, said over the last couple of years it had become apparent that affordable housing in Grand Forks was in very short supply.

“The objective of the proposed development is to provide a very broad spectrum of housing opportunities for any potential candidates that would want to locate to the manufactured home community,” he told Grand Forks city council recently.

“The idea would be that it would provide a home that would fit just about every budget and every housing size.

“What we are proposing is an opportunity to fill the void for homes that are available for under $100,000 … it is an opportunity that I feel is lacking in Grand Forks at the present time.”

Initial discussion about the project for the city began in January 2018 with city staff and, through that discussion, a suggestion was made to consider, as part of the development, home sites that would accommodate small homes.

There are 10 sites proposed for larger homes, ranging up to 1,800 sq. ft. Coun. Christine Thompson said the project was exciting for the city, and noted the dedication of the wetlands to the community.

The northwest portion of the most northerly lot 18 is a wetland and seasonally flooded field in the sensitive ecosystem inventory and will be protected and incorporated into the protected area network via land protection or dedication.

“Is it your intent … to build the tiny homes and re-sell them?” she asked Kobasew when he met with council.

The small homes would be manufactured off site and brought in, he replied. Coun. Neil Krog wondered if the units would be pre-built, or would they arrange the contract for the building. Kobasew said he was not in the business of constructing the homes but would have companies based in the Okanagan put them together for the cusomters.

“The whole benefit of a project like this is to have the homes built in a controlled environment,” he said. “They go much quicker and there is low material waste.”

Manufactured homes now are built the same as any on-location stick-framed house, Kobasew said, using 2×6 exterior construction, high insulation value, pitched shingled roofs, with Hardie board or vinyl siding, and forced-air heating systems.

“They basically come with the same type of warranty coverage that a new home would have that was built on site,” he said.

The site provides a quiet setting, with opportunities for biking and hiking (it’s near Trans Canada Trail), and in area that already has some multi-family housing development.

The public will be advised and invited to comment on the rezoning application in writing. A public hearing will be held — date and time to be announced — to allow council to hear any comments or concerns respecting the proposal.

In the rezone

The rezoning application is for 1.2 hectares (three acres) to accommodate a 25-unit mobile home park at the northerly extent of Boundary Drive. The site is currently zoned R1 – residential (single and two family zone) and a portion of the site is an ecologically
sensitive wetland which is proposed to be preserved as part of the city’s protected area network.

Due to the uniqueness of the site and the development scheme, city staff proposed that a new “site-specific” type of zoning be used for the project to ensure that it is developed in accordance with specific plans approved by city council.

As a result, a “comprehensive development (CD)” zone for the reasons:

  • The northwest portion of the site has been identified as an ecologically sensitive wetland area – the new zoning will ensure it is protected in perpetuity;
  • The 25-unit mobile home park is put forth by the applicant as an affordable housing project and therefore has unique development requirements;
  • The city’s Mobile Home Parks Bylaw is from the 1970’s and was designed to accommodate “old-style” mobile homes and larger mobile home parks. The small mobile home park which will incorporate tiny houses as well as regular mobile homes (all constructed to CSAstandards);

— Source: City of Grand Forks

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