Councillors and district staff at a Sept. 14 council meeting, conducted over videoconferencing app Zoom. (Facebook/District of Hope screenshot)

Hope council briefs: Non-profit apartment building, The Ryder, won’t be taxed by district

Density downtown considered and worries about too many at ball park at Sept. 14 meeting

Non-profit behind Ryder Street housing development won’t be taxed

The 40-unit Ryder Street housing development won’t have to pay property taxes for the next four years.

Councillors voted in favour of allowing the non-profit housing society behind the build a tax exempt status at a Sept. 14 council meeting, with councillors Heather Stewin and Bob Erickson opposed. The tax paid to the district would have been just over $5,000 said councillor Scott Medlock.

According to the application, the building is owned and operated by Anhart Homes CCC Ltd. which is a community contribution company owned by Anhart Community Housing Society, a registered charity. Residents are offered an average discount of 10 per cent on rental rates, with some as high as 20 per cent the application stated. “Anhart Homes contributes 100 per cent of its profits to affordable housing development,” the charity stated.

Councillor Bob Erickson questioned whether the exemption was needed, noting that some other rental properties charge less per unit than the Ryder. “I know it’s a non-profit society but all the people working there are being paid and all the employees around it are being paid,” he said. “So I’m just questioning why this would have one and other rental units don’t.”

Dale Courtice, director of finance with the district, said by law non-profits are allowed to apply for tax exemption within municipalities, adding that council is able to allow a partial tax exemption, a full exemption or to not allow an exemption at all. A partial exemption, he explained, would be to exempt the land or the improvements to it from taxes.

Councillor Scott Medlock noted that the Park Street Manor is also tax exempt, as a non-profit, and there are other buildings in the community who do not pay taxes under other agreements. For example, he noted the Joan Greenwood Place on 7 Avenue have an assessed value of only $2, according to a provision from the provincial government and are therefore exempt from paying taxes.

Medlock voiced support for allowing Anhart the tax exemption for four years, then looking at the impact the organization has had in the community.

Noting that many apartment buildings in Hope charge fair rental value and don’t get tax exemptions, councillor Heather Stewin said she wouldn’t be comfortable with a full tax exemption for Anhart but would be interest in a partial exemption.

The society won’t have to pay taxes on the Ryder Street property until 2024, when they will need to re-apply.

Worries about too many gathered at ball tournaments

Councillor Craig Traun introduced a motion to close the ball fields in the community, until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided to a point where large gatherings are allowed. Traun said he has received “quite a few emails” from people concerned with the amount of people

Scott Medlock said while he agreed with Traun’s intent, enforcement would be difficult especially if it was an impromptu ball game

Chief administrative officer for the district John Fortoloczky said the Fraser Valley Regional District are in charge of enforcement. “They should be the ones enforcing, as they are the ones that are booking,” Fortoloczky said.

Traun withdrew the motion and staff at the district will be sending a letter to the regional district about the issue.

Slight increase in density for Hope zoning

In a public hearing Sept. 14, councillors considered whether to allow developers to build more units per hectare in some areas of downtown Hope.

The change to the district’s zoning bylaw was prompted by a developer with plans to put a 30-unit apartment building at 444 Trans-Canada Highway, the site of a former Texaco gas station.

Read more: Council documents, 444 Trans-Canada Highway proposed apartment building

The 30 units would have exceeded the density allowed in the commercial transition zone, so a change was proposed to allow 92 units per hectare in this zone as well as changes in the multi-family and other commercial zone to allow more units per hectare.

Areas zoned as multiple family residential, the bylaw change stated, would increase from 70 units per hectare to 92 units per hectare for apartment buildings or seniors residences. For other multi-family buildings in this zone, developers would be able to build 70 units per hectare, compared to the previous 35 units.

In the district’s commercial zones, a similar change is proposed from allowing 70 units per hectare to 92 units per hectare for multi-family or apartment builds.

“The 92 units we felt (was safe), it doesn’t provide the perception of big city,” Gill said, adding that requirements including building height, site coverage, setbacks and parking stay the same.

“It’s not the point of making skyscrapers, it’s just to include a moderate change to the density requirement.”

The bylaw change now has be approved by B.C.’s transportation ministry before it is adopted by the district.

Another step along the way for 63951 School Road subdivision plans

“It’s nice to see this is moving forward,” said Mayor Peter Robb about the School Road subdivison. Council agreed to move ahead with preparing a development permit for the site, located in Silver Creek adjacent to the Silver Creek Elementary School property.

Out of the Box Engineering, the Agassiz firm behind the development, states it plans to subdivide the 5 acre property into 30 single-family lots.

The homes in the subdivision will share a common architectural theme, the developers stated, and the aim is to build a walkway to the nearby school as well as keep as many trees as possible along the north and west side of the property as a buffer for the school and other homes in the neighbourhood.

– Compiled by Emelie Peacock

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