October 4 is the date set for the second half of a public hearing to discuss the rezoning of an 11th Ave. East property, where an affordable 70 unit housing complex may be built, Lee Brain, Prince Rupert mayor, announced at the city council meeting on Sept. 20.
The original Aug. 23 public hearing was adjourned to allow the city council time to obtain answers to questions and review further information about the proposed project. Concerns about traffic density and safety, environmental issues, municipal services, taxes, and the suitability of the location, were all voiced by citizens living in the area of the proposed development.
As well, some attendees expressed they did not receive the required information before the public hearing.
“I understand that there’s a lot of passion around this and we want to do our best to ensure that all voices are being heard and all the questions are being accommodated,” Brain said,
Rezoning the city-owned property, from the R2 residential designation to RM2 multi-family designation, is necessary to allow the construction of the multi-level building, developed by Lax Kw’alaams WAAP Housing Society (LKWHS).
“So what I don’t want is at the next public hearing, people to come and say they never had access to this information. And I don’t want them to have to dig around in the council agenda to try to find a technical memo,” Brain said, adding that the developers will also be holding another open house on the day of the public hearing.
The major area of concern for residents is traffic flow in the vicinity to which McElhaney Engineering completed a traffic impact study (TIS) in May, Rob Buchan of iPlan, the city’s consultants, stated in a written report presented to the council which included the follow-up answers.
“The engineer did conclude that the development does not make anything worse and does not have any negative impacts,” he said.
Buchan explained LKWHS has agreed to address recommendations made in the TIS to increase sightlines and improve speed control, such as installing a stop sign at the point of access; installing no-parking signs; developing and implementing a traffic management procedure for the construction phase; installing a sidewalk east of 11th Ave. along the property frontage; restricting 12 units to seniors housing to reduce parking demand and provide three on-street parking stalls; and to provide secure, sheltered bike parking near the front access.
Buchan stated in his report the property developers engaged a registered professional biologist to assess the streamside environment and to establish ‘leave strips’ to ensure the environmental health of the stream. The project footprint was adjusted to ensure there will be no impact in the leave strip areas, which will be designated as ‘no disturb areas’. Part of the property is designated in the new official community plan as an environmental development permit area. Subsequently, no development will be allowed without a city-issued permit.
Services such as water and sewer will be provided by the City of Prince Rupert, with water from the main supply. The property will connect to a gravity-fed sanitary sewer system. Garbage and recycling will be managed by placing containers, located in enclosures, adjacent to the building and driveway. The driveway will provide a turnaround area for vehicles.
The city can anticipate more tax revenue than it currently receives from the land, Buchan stated.
“Until the BC assessment office has valued the completed building, we will not be able to provide an estimate of the increase in property taxes. However, as a general rule, multi-family developments result in greater values for assessment than does a single-family development.”
The city planner said that the suitability of the location includes several considerations such as designated land use in the Official Community Plan (OCP), availability of services, access, environmental conditions, financial constraints, and end-user needs.
“The property has been designated for residential developments in the current and preceding OCP’s. In other words, the city’s plan calls for development at this location,” Buchan said.
While LKWHS plans a tall building, it will be placed at the bottom of a slope which will reduce the scale and perceived height from the street, as well, existing trees and possible future development of the surrounding lots would serve to reduce the impact of the building height and scale.
To read the full report and technical traffic memo, documents can be found starting on page 86 of the Sept. 20 city council agenda.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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