BC Housing appears to have caved to public pressure by reducing the number of housing units it planned to build in the Harbour View Gardens project located in the Kootenay and McKay area of Prince Rupert, city council heard on Feb. 8.
Construction of thirty-eight units was originally planned for the site, Chris Buchan from iPlanning and Development Services Ltd., the city’s planning consultant told council members at the regular meeting.
After negative feedback from the public, the housing authority withdrew its original rezoning application, reduced the number of units to 30, and reapplied for a development permit, he said. The original rezoning application was heard by council on May, 25, 2020.
“After receiving negative public comments directed towards an increase in density the Rezoning Application was subsequently withdrawn. This new application responds to the public feedback with a lower density that fully complies with the General Multi-family Development Permit Guidelines, Zoning Bylaw, and Offical Community Plan,” Buchan said.
Located at 1430 to 1500 Kootenay Ave. it is currently within an existing residential townhome complex.
“This new development proposes a removal of five existing townhome buildings and the addition of four new townhome buildings. This development will result in an overall reduction of eight dwelling units,” Buchan told the council.
The reduction in family-sized units drew the ire of some council members who spoke out about the necessity of housing in the city.
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morgan said the planned reduction in units was ‘super unfortunate’ given the ‘over saturation’ and how overpopulated some rental units in the city have become with multiple families requiring to live in the same household.
” … Especially in subsidized housing for families that are being underserved, it’s fortunate to see so much pushback from primary homeowners … in the area.”
He said when it comes to servicing the collective of the community, there always seems to be a challenge and a difference of opinion.
“There’s very much a not in my backyard mentality,” Skelton-Morven said which is disappointing to him as someone who grew up in the subsidized housing area.
“It’s challenging, unfortunately, to see these conversations take place, although we are allowed a difference in opinion,” he said.
Skelton-Morven said there needs to be a mitigation and a balancing of the opposites between the opinions so those that do not have the opportunity to speak out, and the ones that need this housing the most can be serviced.