Council gets earful on proposed rezoning

Packed public meeting opposes zoning changes to allow for duplex, triplex structures near Mount Royal neighbourhood.

Cranbrook city council got an earful from concerned residents concerned about the proposed rezoning of two parcels of property near the Mount Royal neighbourhood at a public hearing on Monday night.

The properties, which are on either side of Eagleridge Crescent adjacent to 30th Ave N, are currently zoned at R1 – Single Family Extended Resident, however, the property owner is appealing to council to rezone the classification to R2 – Three and Four Family Residential Zone.

Neighbouring homeowners, who came out in droves with standing room only in council chambers, took turns making their submission to council—universally arguing against the proposed rezoning.

Karen Churchill, who lives in the area, said she consulted with her neighbours and wrote a letter to the city, which she read in front of council.

Churchill wrote that she is strongly opposed to the proposed rezoning, noting that the potential construction of duplexes, triplex or a four-plex will depreciate nearby property values, be an eyesore and attract low-income and “certain types of people.”

Gerry Vanhooren, president of the Northwood Estates strata council—a gated community that abuts the south side of one of the properties—argued his concerns about neighbourhood compatibility

“I noticed in some submissions or some reports that, on the recommendation side from staff, that compatibility with the neighbourhood was not addressed at all,” Vanhooren said.

“I think that’s one of the most important things, is how compatible are the structures that you anticipate in relation to whats already there, especially when there are 300-plus already built, and we’re talking about two small parcels of land.”

Wayne Ostash, the owner of the two subject properties who is applying for the zoning change, said he has no intention of putting duplexes or triplexes around the Northwood Estate community.

However, he added that there are existing duplexes around Eagleridge Crescent, and if any duplex or triplex structures were going anywhere, it’d be in proximity to the existing ones.

“Nothing is going to be two storeys high,” Ostash said. “You can tell along right behind the Quad ball field, they’ve done a beautiful job some of the duplexes and three-plexes there, and they’re quite attractive.

“That’s what we’re hoping to achieve.”

Ostash sympathized with the homeowners of Northwood Estates.

“I wouldn’t want a bunch of great big four-plexes and duplexes behind my house either,” Ostash said. “Keep it simple, keep it low, and the property, the way it develops, the road is probably going to be a bit lower than what the houses are. You’re going to have a house sitting up a wee bit.

“And that’s where we’re at with that.”

Upon questioning from Councillor Ron Popoff, Ostash added that the rezoning application isn’t a license for him to pursue building whatever structures he wants; the application to R2 zoning is just another option in the development toolkit.

“We’ve been around Cranbrook a long time, we’re not out here to step on anyone’s toes,” said Ostash. “…I guess I’m still old-school—a man’s word—but lots of people don’t buy that.

“You’re right. [The] zoning will give us the capabilities to do all those things, but it’s not our intention.”

Following the public hearing, City Council brought up the issue in their regular meeting, where it was promptly voted down.

While council opposed the rezoning of the two properties, the issue of affordable housing was raised by Councillor Danielle Cardozo.

“I do hope that this community will take a strong look at what duplexes have started to become in communities like ours, where housing prices have become higher,” Cardozo said.

“I will say, that when statements are made that it’s a ‘certain type of person’ that buys into these—my first home was a duplex. That was my house, and I tell you, the description of people who own these houses or could own these houses—I didn’t fit that description.”

Cardozo said she would support the zoning change if it came back to council with covenants that the structures were only duplexes and owner-occupied, not rental properties.