An apartment complex is being rebuilt on Vernon’s Hospital Hill five years after a devastating blaze.
City council went against a staff recommendation Monday and approved in principle a change in land use designation from medium density residential/commercial to residential high density for 1803 31A St.
“They will be using the same footprint. There were 30 units and they are proposing 42,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
In February 2011, fire roared through the Skyline Manor, forcing 52 tenants into frigid temperatures.
On Monday, city staff had wanted the official community plan amendment application denied and they urged council to proceed with a review of land use designations on Hospital Hill.
Initially, many council members backed staff’s call for a mix of residential and commercial activities on the site.
“There’s a hub around the hospital that has commercial viability,” said Coun. Scott Anderson.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham insisted that sustainable communities requires neighbourhoods having more than homes.
“If someone needs to access services, they don’t have to get into their vehicle,” she said.
Lord challenged those comments.
“It’s not three kilometres out of town. They are close to a lot of amenities right now,” she said of nearby downtown Vernon.
Mayor Akbal Mund also slammed the need for commercial uses.
“There’s a lot of commercial a five-minute walk down the hill,” he said.
“What kind of commercial would you put in there that doesn’t already exist?”
When it came to a vote to deny the application, it died in a tie-vote with Anderson, Cunningham and Coun. Bob Spiers in favour and Mund, Lord and Coun. Dalvir Nahal opposed (Coun. Brian Quiring declared a conflict as his architectural firm is involved in the development).
A motion was then made to approve the land use application, with only Cunningham opposed.
As part of the motion, city staff will also prepare a process to review land use designations in the Hospital Hill neighbourhood.