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Council approves zoning change for proposed apartment building

Cranbrook city council approved a rezoning application that would permit construction of a four-storey apartment proposed by a non-profit housing society.

Cranbrook city council approved a rezoning application that would permit construction of a four-storey apartment proposed by a non-profit housing society.

The Aqanttanam Housing Society, which owns the three blocks of townhouses on 2nd St. S, applied for a zoning amendment in order to replace the structures with a new apartment building geared towards low-cost affordable housing.

The townhouses currently provide 18 units of housing, while the proposed apartment is expected to create 36-42 of ‘rent geared towards income’ dwellings, according to the society.

The council vote passed unanimously.

“This is exactly the kind of housing we need in our community,” said Councillor Ron Popoff, referencing a housing needs study that was coincidentally presented to council during the same meeting.

Councillor Norma Blissett also noted her intent to vote in support of the proposal.

“I’m in favour of increasing the density of development, particularly in the central core of Cranbrook,” Blissett said. “This area is within walking distance of downtown, within walking distance of the middle school up the road, Mount Baker Secondary School, on a public transit use, it’s a good, efficient use of our landspace, plus many of the people living in apartments don’t have multiple cars.”

The existing three townhouse structures on the property were built in 1973, but require significant repairs and upgrades estimated at $4.2 million — approximately $231,000 per unit.

A few residents who live near the subject property voiced opposition to the rezoning application during a public hearing before the council meeting.

Concerns from speakers focused on fire lane access, overflow parking that may potentially come with the addition of more units on the site, vandalism already experienced by adjacent properties and an unsuitable high-density zoning designation near a single-family residential gated community.

“When we have seniors trying to enjoy their retirement on one side, and low-income people on the other side, it just doesn’t seem to make sense that densifying it to the maximum really would work out and we only want it to make sense,” said one speaker.

Austin Parisien, the executive director of the Aqanttanam Housing Society, also spoke at the public hearing, acknowledging resident concerns and pledging to address issues such as privacy and parking.

During council’s discussion, Councillor Wes Graham suggested looking at transit routes and ensuring a transit stop is near the site, while Councillor Wayne Price also suggested conducting a traffic study.

The Aqanttanam Housing Society is on pace to complete the Chief Agnes McCoy Centre, a new 39-unit apartment building in Slaterville, and also has a housing portfolio that includes 16 houses, 10 duplexes and a 12-unit apartment building. According to the society, it will be housing 95 individuals and families this year, with a further 192 individuals or families on a wait list, averaging four new applicants per month.

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Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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