The scarcity of rental units in Salmon Arm was the main reason given by city council for approving a rezoning to accommodate a six-storey commercial/residential building along 10th Avenue SW, while the height of the building was the main concern for neighbours opposed to it.
At council’s Monday, March 8 meeting, an online public hearing was held, followed by council’s vote on third reading of the rezoning application for 1230, 1260 and 1290 10th Ave. SW. The property will be rezoned from C3, service commercial zone to C2, town commercial zone.
The plan from applicant West Urban Developments Ltd. and owner LST Ventures Ltd. for the L-shaped building is to have main-level commercial space with up to 140 upper residential rental units.
Council received about 30 letters in opposition to the rezoning application, most from residents of the neighbouring Village at 10th and 10th. The over-riding concern was the six-storey structure, as well as loss of privacy from 100 open parking spaces and the impact on traffic of 140 apartments and commercial use.
Caroline Grover, who acted as spokesperson for the 10th and 10th residents, said although they would be willing to have council entertain a multi-family development on the site, “we absolutely cannot support the six storeys. Either turn down or consider a ban on anything greater than a three-storey structure.”
Mayor and council voted unanimously to approve rezoning for the six-storey development, expressing their understanding of the neighbours’ concerns. However, the need for rental housing took priority.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond spoke of a “housing ladder.”
“A ladder only works if all the rungs are in place. We’ve worked hard at the bottom of the ladder in terms of supportive housing, shelter housing, deep-subsidy housing, housing for women at risk of domestic violence and just this week we got an announcement about student housing.”
She said one part missing is rentals.
“I think we are very fortunate to have an experienced developer who not only builds buildings but also manages them and is committed to having an entire building full of rental.”
Other councillors pointed out the three-lot site sits in an excellent location.
“It’s close to shopping, amenities, bus routes, parks, good for walking, services, it’s close to everything we need,” Coun. Chad Eliason said.
Mayor Alan Harrison referred to the city’s efforts to attract young people and how the lack of rentals is a significant hindrance.
“You either go up or you go out,” he said of expansion, emphasizing that going out means sprawl while increasing density keeps buildings where infrastructure is.