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Need for housing in Prince Rupert outweighs opposition, city councillor states

Bylaw amendments for rezoning move to 3rd reading after petition and verbal presentations
Prince Rupert City Council moved forward on a bylaw change and rezoning applicaiton after a public hearing offered objections on June 12. A sign on 9th Ave. West notifies residents of a proposed zoning bylaw change to allow for a multi-unit housing development project. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Opposition to a 40-unit housing development was voiced in person and presented in a 35-signature petition to Prince Rupert City Council at a public hearing on June 12.

The property subject to a rezoning application is located in front of Prince Rupert Middle School and next to the golf course on 9th Ave. West and Lisa Walters Drive. The suggested five-story building endeavour is to be located on the eight lots of land being sold by the city

Regardless of the opposition, the city council passed a motion at the regular council meeting later in the evening to move ahead to a third reading of the zoning amendment bylaw.

City Councillor Wade Niesh cited that the need for housing outweighs the initial concerns that are “always the same” at every housing application where people struggle with bylaw changes.

“Our community screams for housing in every which way and form … we need all of it,” he said.

Presentations at the public hearing started with James Horne, director of School District 52, stating the board intended to build a multi-level school building and there would be continuous noise during school hours from the students and school bells which may be disruptive to residents.

“In the spirit of transparency, we would like to remind everybody that we’re building a school in the immediate vicinity that’s at least 120 feet high. So we’ll have at least 400 students and because of that, it will have traffic to get the students in and out of the school with travel beyond where this thing is going to be built.”

Neighbourhood residents Mary Allen and her husband, Brian Fox live close by.

“We object to it on the basis that the zoning that’s currently there, R2, two families on one lot, is the character of a neighbourhood and the school fits in totally with that type of zoning.”

She pointed out to the council that while it has been proposed as multifamily housing, 15 units are slated to be bachelor suites, 15 are one bedroom and only 10 units would be two bedrooms.

“So right next door to a school, we really feel that it should have family developments like … more than one family member or two family members living right next to a school.”

Allen pointed out that on May 28, a petition was endorsed by numerous signators. She said that local residents like to sit outside in the afternoon, see the green space, and watch the children playing. Traffic is “horrendous” already at 8:30 a.m. and she doesn’t see how any traffic plan could possibly work.

“We basically like the character of our neighbourhood and to look across the street and see a five-storey building when you already know that when the sun comes over the mountain, in the wintertime, it doesn’t reach very far. We will be sitting in the shadow of that building. I would also like to say the city has other properties that we feel would better suit a high-density housing development like that.”

In response, Jeff Brown, representing Northern Star Development Rupert Homes, said they are just at the rezoning stage of the project. Hence have not shared any details of this particular plan because they haven’t been developed yet.

“At the development permit stage, we’ll be going through elevations of the building. We’ll be conducting a shadow study of the building so that we understand where those shadows would fall throughout the year. And perhaps that might help alleviate some concerns with the trees that are there.”

Brown said the company looks forward to working with city staff to ensure details of the proposed building are ones everyone feels comfortable with and have a clear understanding of what the building will look and feel like.

“We are very cognizant of the traffic that will be generated by this project. We’re looking at how best to mitigate that, of course, working with the neighbours…”

Parking is also a consideration the company is working on to preserve safety and functioning intersections so the surrounding road network is not impacted.

“Again, most of those details will come out further once we get into the development permit stage.”

READ MORE: Zoning bylaws amendments proposed for 40-unit residential complex in Prince Rupert