Vernon politicians insist they aren’t undermining the supply of affordable housing.
On Monday, council voted to seek public input on a proposed 37-unit seniors-oriented apartment although staff had recommended the application be denied because it would reduce the amount of small residential lots.
“It’s never wrong to go to the public because that’s who we serve,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.
“We are not taking away from attainable housing because there are a number of initiatives to deal with that.”
The development is proposed for the 3900 block of 30th Avenue and the 3900 block of 29th Avenue. The applicant wants the zoning to go from residential small lot — single and two-family dwelling to residential — medium density.
Staff had recommended the application be denied because they believe it is contrary to the land use designation in the city’s official community plan.
“Only 0.4 per cent of the lands within the municipal boundary are designated as residential small lot,” said Cleo Corbett, long range planner, in a written report.
“This form and type of housing was identified as an important component to meet the housing needs of families. Having smaller lots and smaller homes increases affordability without subsidies while still providing a traditional form of housing to meet the needs of families.”
Presently, there is an old motel and three houses on the property, and the applicant defends the seniors-oriented proposal.
“The statistics and statistical projections say that the percentage of population over 55 years of age will increase,” said lawyer Tom Smithwick in a letter to council.
“The proposed development will offer more housing options to this significant segment of the population. People who will move into the proposed development will sell their existing homes, most probably single-family dwellings. Additional supply of single-family houses will help keep prices affordable.”
Coun. Patrick Nicol believes the proposed development should be considered.
“The statistics indicate there’s a market for it,” he said.
Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe defends the decision to overrule the staff recommendation.
“The advisory planning board voted in favour of it and that indicates there was some disconnect from what was being recommended (by staff),” she said.
“I want to hear what the community has to say about this.”