City council approved the rezoning of land in Slaterville that will be used to build a 39-unit three-storey apartment building consisting of market-rental and affordable housing.
Council heard feedback from the public prior to meeting at a lengthly public hearing before the issue came up in the regular meeting.
The property in question — 629 6th Street NW — currently includes the building for the House of Hope church.
Under the plan from the Aqanttanam Housing Society, the plan is to keep the existing church building and construct a 39-unit apartment building, with the potential option for a second 39-unit apartment building on the same property in the future.
The public hearing drew voices of both opposition and support; the former concerned about increased traffic and the impact of a multi-family complex to the neighbourhood, while housing advocates highlighted the need for affordable housing.
Mayor Pratt referenced the Official Community Plan (OCP), noting how zoning contained within are more of a guideline than a binding land-use designation that can be changed through an application process.
“Don’t feel that we don’t listen,” Pratt told the packed gallery, “but I think some of the points that were made are really not valid enough to stop the proposal.”
The vote in favour of the zoning change was unanimous, except Councillor Isaac Hockley and Wes Graham were not present due to conflicts of interest.
“We need to zone, we need to get places that can house people,” said Councillor Ron Popoff, “and I think the neighbourhood — I realize your apprehensions — but I think the neighbourhood will be rewarded with some good citizens who are being properly scrutinized and screened through this housing authority.”
Councillor Danielle Eaton noted she lived in an Aqanttanam Housing Society building years ago after struggling to find affordable housing in the city. She told council chambers that Cranbrook needs more affordable housing, but sympathized with neighbouring property owners’ concerns.
“The reality is nobody wants to change their neighbourhood and we get it,” Eaton said. “Unfortunately, we have to look at the broader spectrum of the community as a whole.”
The public hearing included representation from some of Cranbrook’s social services organizations, including the Homeless Outreach Program, The United Way, and the Salvation Army — all of which voiced support for the development of the property.
“I believe I can honestly say that Cranbrook has reached a housing crisis,” said Tracy Pound, with the Homeless Outreach Program. “We have many units in this community that are not really suitable for people to live in that people are living in.”
Pound said the middle class is being squeezed by high housing prices, while rents are also high, which prevents families from saving for a down payment to buy a home.
“…The reality is affordable housing in this community is a difficult thing. The average price per housing in Cranbrook to purchase a home is $339,000. There are a lot of people who cannot afford to purchase housing.”