Council approves zoning changes for new apartment building

City council has approved zoning changes to allow the construction of a 20-unit apartment building in the Laurie Middle School neighbourhood.

The proposed four-storey apartment, to be managed and operated by BC Housing, will replace two existing four-plex buildings behind Little Caesar’s Pizza, one of which is currently uninhabited.

The vote was unanimous by mayor and council, with most citing the city’s housing crisis and the need for additional rental units.

“We need housing,” said Counc. Ron Popoff. “We need housing in our community for all housing and also, I note that the Advisory Planning Commission also recommended in favour of this proposal, so I’m with this.”

Coun. Wes Graham agreed.

“I had the same thing approved to be built right across the road from my house last year — a three storey apartment building,” said Graham. “As much as I might not have agreed with it or thought about it, it made sense for the area of the community I live in.

“You have to balance the need versus where you are, so I am in favour of this.”

During a public hearing before the decision, a few neighbouring home owners expressed opposition to the project, citing safety concerns from increased traffic, parking, potential negative impacts to nearby property values and the additional stress on underlying infrastructure.

One homeowner also had privacy concerns, as the upper-storey balconies would be overlooking her backyard.

A consultant with the project sympathized with the privacy concerns, but noted that removing balconies wasn’t an option and suggested the use of vegetation or arbour structures to shield the backyard.

The proposal also includes a parking variance of 1.4 spaces per unit and an on-site playground.

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