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Timeframe on council decision for location of BC Housing project narrows

After considering several rezoning options, the preferred option is to zone the site to a comprehensive (CD) zone which will enable site specific regulations particular to this development, the city staff report read.

The location of a multi-unit supportive housing development for Grand Forks hangs in the balance as the city’s elected officials try and weigh the project’s merits.

The BC Housing project to add 34 units of housing to the city’s stock is pending, waiting for a city council directive to allow either a 70th Street location —  near Dick Bartlett Park — through a zoning amendment, or revert to the downtown at Second Street on what is currently a gravel parking lot owned by BC Housing.

City council has until the end of the month to decide, and moved an amendment on the use of the 70th Street property to third reading and the public arena June 5 at City Hall.

However, the project for 70th Street has not gained council-wide acceptance, despite the city purchasing the four lots specifically for the project. Mayor Brian Taylor spoke against the amendment and the location in a council meeting May 21.

“I think this project is costing the city way too much. I think it is moving away from a bad site; Second Street was not (ideal) ... but we were going to make it work,” he said. “Now we are going from bad to worse.”

On March 25 the city acquired four residential lots on 70th Avenue to help create a potential alternative access to the 19th Street BC Housing project, “and to generally accommodate land uses and/or partnership opportunities that would be of benefit to the residents of the city,” noted a city staff report.

But to accommodate the project on the site a zoning bylaw amendment was needed to allow high-occupancy housing.

“After considering several rezoning options, the preferred option is to zone the site to a comprehensive (CD) zone which will enable site specific regulations particular to this development,” the city staff report read.

“It is proposed that this zone be based on the existing Community Use (CU) zone given that the site is owned by the city and is to be used for purposes of benefit to the public.”

If council rejects the zoning amendment for 70th Street later this month, BC Housing can go back to the Second Street location.

If the amendment passes and the 70th Street development goes ahead, the city will have to purchase the downtown Second Street lots from BC Housing for $237,000.

According to an agreement reached by the city and BC Housing last month, council has until June 30 to nail down the location for the project.

In the zone

The proposed CD-2 zone amendment contains the following provisions:

  1. Rezone the site from R1 to CD 2 (based on the CU zone) — The majority of land owned by the city is zoned Community Use (CU) and the CD-2 zone is based on the CU zone. The CU zone allows, among other uses, parks, public and civic facilities and any buildings or structures operating under a private-council partnership agreement.
  2. Include “supportive housing” as a specific use in the CD-2 zone — It is proposed to add “supportive housing’ as a permitted use. This will add clarity and transparency as to the city’s intended use for the site.
  3. Increase the maximum of height of buildings —To accommodate the supportive housing project and more efficient use of land and servicing, the CD-2 zone will allow buildings to a maximum height of 18 metres (60 feet). The existing CU zone allows a maximum of 10 metres (33 feet).
  4. Add parking requirements for supportive housing uses — Research suggests that parking needs for supportive housing developments are much less than for market housing and that the needs may be more in line with congregate care and rest homes. It is proposed that parking requirements for housing with supportive services be one space for every three bedrooms.

— Source: City of Grand Forks