Salmon Arm council is onboard with a new residential development along 5th Street SE.
Following an evening public hearing on Monday, March 26, Mayor Nancy Cooper and councillors Kevin Flynn, Chad Eliason and Louise Wallace Richmond voted to support a rezoning application that would accommodate a proposed four-building, eight-unit residential development at 791 5th St. SE, just north of the 10th Avenue SE intersection. Coun. Tim Lavery was opposed while Couns. Allan Harrison and Ken Jamieson were absent.
In 2017, council voted against a similar application for the property that included a nine-unit development and less parking.
During the public hearing, council received numerous presentations from neighbours. The majority were opposed to the development, while all of them shared concerns related to traffic and/or parking along 5th and how additional residences would exacerbate an already taxing situation.
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It was argued traffic is already heavy along the road, particularly in the winter when Shoemaker Hill closes. It was noted how 5th serves as one of the city’s higher-priority collector routes, but is not yet built to that standard. The city was urged to first focus on improving infrastructure, including a new arterial route south of 10th Avenue SE, before increasing density along 5th.
“At the last hearing about this rezoning, which was turned down, many of the councillors spoke of how this was the wrong time for this development at this location, it was like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Very little has changed,” commented Glynne Green. “It is now eight units instead of nine, 16 parking spots instead of 14… What has changed is there’s more traffic… I would hope that until there is something concrete to ease the traffic on this road, that this rezoning is turned down.”
Councillors acknowledged that traffic is a concern along 5th and that the city is working towards improving the situation. At the same time, the city and council are working to address the need for housing.
“The last time I voted against it because I understood the traffic piece,” said Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond. “But I think I overlooked the importance of the affordable housing piece, and if we don’t infill and get very serious about our multi-family opportunities, we’re all going to suffer in the long run. We can’t keep building single-family homes on pieces of property and not expect the city to swell out into sprawl. I don’t think that’s what anybody wants.”
Lavery called the traffic concerns legitimate and said they would not be resolved in the next while.
“We do not have a robust design in place and at this stage,” said Lavery. “I don’t support this application because of that.”