Two Hope housing developments — a townhouse build and an affordable housing complex — are closer to reality after getting the go ahead from council June 25.
The rezoning of 548 Park Street to accomodate a six-unit townhouse was passed by council after a public hearing the same evening. The property at 1270 Ryder St. was rezoned as well, to accomodate an affordable housing plan with 31 studios, six two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units.
At the public hearings preceeding the council meeting where the rezoning was passed, council chambers were full, with the majority in attendance to speak about the Ryder St. proposal put forward by Anhart Community Housing.
Neighbours, including Shiela Smelt, Herman Smelt and Naomi Barrettara, questioned whether the new configuration of units in the affordable housing would meet housing needs in Hope.
“If Anhart’s idea is to meet the need of families and people in Hope who need accomodations…I don’t see how this development is going to meet that need,” neighbour Shiela Smelt said, referring to a housing survey Anhart did in Hope which found the need was for one or two bedroom apartments, as 52 per cent of respondents lived either with a partner, spouse, child or children.
The original plan brought to council Feb. 1, was 16 studios, 15-one bedrooms, six two-bedrooms and three three-bedrooms. The new build is majority studios, which the neighbours said wouldn’t meet needs for families.
Board member Crystal Wiebe answered that the studio suites, 31 to 36 square metres, would be big enough for a couple.
She said the prices of raw materials have gone up 25 per cent, adding $1-million to the cost of the build, so the organization behind the project Anhart Community Housing is currently doing their own fundraising to ‘deepen affordability.’
The reason behind the change, Wiebe assured, was that the new configuration of suites was the best fit for the property.
What exactly the units will rent for hasn’t been worked out, Wiebe said, however it would likely be structured as a pay what you can afford model with a minimum rent payment required.
“We haven’t really hammered down the entire operational plan, but we’ll be taking advising from co-ops that are already doing this,” Weibe said. “We haven’t actually finalized even the budget of it, as we move into development is when we engage with contractors and we narrow down the price of the building.”
The hearing on the 548 Park Street plan was the second public hearing about this property. The first, where the company Lordlet Investments were criticized both by council and neighbours for ‘too much, too soon’ with their eight townhouse plan, led them back to the drawing board.
Wendy and Tim Bissky, neighbours and opponents to the original eight-unit project, were present at the second public hearing.
Wendy said she was still concerned about protecting her heritage trees, ensuring privacy and protecting her home from noise, smoke and other irritants, but said this public hearing was better than the first one and communication with the development company has been ongoing about the Bisskys’ concerns.