Forty-eight homes for seniors are coming to Vernon’s downtown.
A new four-storey building offering 48 one-bedroom units will join an established six-storey building in McCulloch Court on Coldstream Avenue after city councillors voted in favour of a variance application Monday, Sept. 28.
The new addition was approved with a reduced number of parking spaces from 204 to 69, reduced loading spaces from four to two and bicycle spaces from 121 to 31. Another variance approved will see the number of access points increase from two to three.
The new build, which will be operated by Vernon Pensioners Accommodation Society in partnership with BC Housing, will also add 54 spaces for mobility scooter parking to offset the demand for vehicle parking for residents.
Currently, 41 parking spaces are used by tenants of the 113-unit building while neighbouring businesses previously rented 19 of the total 76 spots available.
The reduced parking was justified by staff as affordable and seniors housing typically have lower vehicle ownership compared to other housing developments and its central downtown location is close to amenities and other means of transportation.
But a reduction in downtown parking was cause for concern for some members of council.
Mayor Victor Cumming said he saw 30 vehicles parked in the site on a Sunday afternoon, which he said was contradictory to what was being reported to council.
“Someone is finding it necessary or desirable to park there,” Mayor Cumming said.
Coun. Scott Anderson said parking downtown is disappearing at an “alarming rate,” but acknowledged that the society understands the parking needs of its residents.
Coun. Akbal Mund said businesses downtown need to redirect staff to the parkade.
“A lot of street parking spaces are being used up by downtown employees which is why it’s hard to find a spot,” Mund said, adding the parkade is only a block and a half away.
Anderson also questioned why an entire room in the proposed development was dedicated to bicycle storage when staff findings reported only one tenant has a bicycle at this time.
“It’s an elderly population,” he said. “I suspect many of them don’t ride bikes but ride mobility scooters. We’re putting an empty room there.”
The current 113-unit facility has no dedicated bicycle parking, and even with the requested variance on bicycle parking, the new facility will see a room on the second floor dedicated for parking for 12 bicycles.