The City of Vernon sold the 19.6-acre McMechan Reservoir to a development company, who now wants to create a mini-neighbourhood for the property in five phases. (Morning Star file photo)

McMechan Reservoir to become mini-neighbourhood

Vernon property on 39th Avenue hoping to be developed in five phases

A mini neighbourhood is being planned for the former McMechan Reservoir in Vernon.

The 20-acre, 172-lot site in the 900 block of 39th Avenue was sold by the city in December for $6.5 million. The developer has applied to rezone the land, and for a five-phase development agreement to be drafted.

“Administration has been working with them (Stoni Consolidated Holdings, Kelowna) and their design team on a small lot residential neighbourhood concept,” said Cleo Corbett, City of Vernon planner.

“The site offers a tremendous opportunity to develop a modern, compact residential neighbourhood that fulfills many policies identified in our official community plan: alternative development standards, park space, connected trail system and providing smaller home options, all while being close to existing services and amenities.”

The small lot residential land use designation that’s on the site has a vision of ground-oriented, single family homes, duplexes and row housing with fee-simple ownership being desired form as opposed to strata. Also being explored are rental opportunities in form of secondary suites and carriage houses.

“This provides a little bit of unit diversity and rental options on the property as well as mortgage helpers,” said Corbett, adding that 10 per cent of the proposed homes would be attainable and affordable housing. A small commercial business venture – possibly a daycare facility – is also being considered for the site.

Stoni Consolidated Holdings would be responsible for engineering, planning, site preparation, design and capital works associated with the application, and, ultimately, the development of the neighbourhood.

“We will spend $1.2 to $1.5 million to get to the final design stage which will hopefully be sometime this summer,” said Stoni CEO Graham Illingworth, adding the project would be done in five phases with about 40-to-50 residences built each year, depending on conditions.

“I want to thank the City of Vernon. I think that the process of taking on this project is clearly thinking outside the box. I think it will yield many results to the city, the residents and ourselves.

“It’s a win-win.”

Coun. Juliette Cunningham said the project is a healthier way to build a community withing a community.

“It encourages a mix of housing,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for us to be leaders and work with a developer that’s willing to think outside the box.”

The plan also contains a neighbourhood park and an active lane-way, along with connected trails.

Coun. Scott Anderson expressed concerns about the project’s density and parking.

Council voted 6-1, with Anderson in 0pposition, to support presenting the plan to the public.

The plan will be put up on the city’s engagevernon.ca website, and there will also be an open house held at a later date to inform the public of the plan and gain feedback.

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