Populism, or the vox populi, won out at the April 24 public hearing on plans to build four houses and four carriage homes at 690 Third Ave., or the northwest corner of Park Street and Third Avenue.
District of Hope council decided to send the request back to staff and developer Walter Esau for further consideration of the feedback gained from that evening. Council had to balance the Integrated Official Community Plan’s vision for densification with neighbours’ complaints. The majority of attendees stood against the development of the property where the “purple house” sits, although a few spoke for it.
Arguments for the project focused on District-wide benefits. Director of community development Jas Gill kicked the public hearing off saying that the proposed bus stop at Memorial Park would benefit from the densification of the property and highlighted that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has shown that Hope’s rental vacancy is at zero per cent.
“This proposal would only be a component of addressing these needs of fostering positive housing change,” said Gill.
Realtor Hans Jeschek added that there is a need for these kinds of housing, and that many homes in Hope have “mortgage helpers,” like a basement, that do not convert into taxes for the town. The District will gain additional property and utility taxes. Esau added that this will create “probably about four times the taxes.”
Peter Bailey, the secretary of Christ Church Anglican, the building next to the property, said that the church has concerns, but is not opposed to the redevelopment. Speaking for the church, he said they have had concerns about the residents of the purple house and the sewer demands of the new dwellings.
Speaking as a resident, he said densification combats urban sprawl, and a dense downtown will enhance business in the downtown. He added that densification enhances the social fabric of communities.
Detractors took issue with neighbourhood-level problems including the removal of trees at the property, parking, loss of privacy, traffic and laneway access. Esau said 23 trees will be left after the construction as they will remove 12 to 14, mostly smaller, trees on their property, which the People’s Warden of Christ Church, Bev Kreller, opposed.
In her letter, speaking as a resident, she said that she “would be terribly disappointed if these magnificent trees located in the heart of our town were taken down for the sake of a developer’s greed.” Speaking for the church, she said the trees would interfere with the proposed construction.
Parking also drew concerns. Participants said that during Memorial Park events and church events, neighbours will be squeezed for parking.
They also argued people do not use garages for storage, rather than parking.
After the public hearing, Mayor Wilfried Vicktor, councillors Donna Kropp, Bob Erickson, Gerry Dyble and Heather Stewin spoke against the major increase in density. Instead, they suggested that the developer consider three houses and three carriage homes instead.