Despite concern around commitment to affordable housing, Sicamous council approved a development permit for construction of a six-storey building on the Best Western property along Highway 1.
Council authorized issuance of the permit for the development at 806 Trans-Canada Hwy. during its May 11 meeting. The applicant wishes to construct a six-storey building that will include 40 dwelling units as well as space for retail and food and beverage services.
District development services manager Scott Beeching explained the applicant is willing to enter an agreement with the district to reserve 10 of the units for “attainable housing.”
“They’re willing to enter a contract with the district for a housing agreement where those 10 units would remain available as rentals…,” said Beeching. “Hopefully we can get the housing committee involved and they can select how people will be chosen to stay there.”
Beeching added the Best Western wishes to have housing available for staff – “that’s the main reason they want to go down this road.”
Coun. Maclolm Makayev expressed concern with approving the permit before entering a housing agreement with the applicant.
“The affordable housing portion, I’m glad the developer is recognizing that and offering that up, but it still seems to me like it’s a carrot, being asked to approve this permit ahead of a housing agreement,” said Makayev, expressing interest in an amendment to the permit to reflect it is subject to a signed housing agreement.
Beeching explained with a development permit, you can’t add conditions that aren’t supported in the official community plan. He said the applicant needs the development permit in place in order to secure financing, likely through BC Housing.
“It could just be another 40 hotel units which I don’t think would be a horrible thing for this town, but they have worked with us in good faith towards it, and I think I trust them enough to recommend it,” said Beeching. “It’s up to council to make the decision.”
Coun. Gord Bushell credited the Best Western owners buying the commercial property, employing close to 40 people in town and wanting to build more units.
“It is commercial property, it’s highway commercial, it’s zoned for a hotel… It’s a bonus if we get 10 units out of it,” said Bushell. “If we don’t get 10 units out of it, we get a new building that’s going to have more employees.”
Council gave unanimous support to issue the permit.
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