Redevelopment of a Vernon property has existing residents fearing they will be on the street.
The City of Vernon is currently considering bylaws that would permit a 37-unit seniors-oriented apartment in the 3900 block of 30th and 29th avenues.
“Having the place demolished will cause problems for the people who live there,” said Jos Pesant, during a public hearing at city hall Tuesday.
Pesant is one of about 36 people who currently live in an old motel and three houses on the land.
Pesant says many of the tenants are disabled and don’t have the financial resources to move.
“There will be a cost to finding a place. It shouldn’t be demolished, it should be improved,” he said.
Kim Merlow is also concerned about her fellow tenants when rent in Vernon can be expensive.
“They will have to find new residences,” she said.
“Where do all of these people go — the disabled, the seniors?”
Redevelopment of the site is being proposed by the property owner, Mayfield Homes.
“The landlord realizes there will be moving issues,” said Tom Smithwick, a Kelowna lawyer representing the owner.
Smithwick says provincial legislation provides for moving costs for tenants impacted by redevelopment and it determines the timeline for eviction notice.
“There will be a lot of time to make other arrangements,” he said of the tenants finding new homes.
Mayfield Homes has owned the site since 2007.
“It’s not Vernon’s most attractive property. These buildings cannot go on in their current state indefinitely,” said Smithwick of the motel and homes.
The city is being asked to change the official community plan designation from residential small lot to residential medium density and the zoning from multiple housing residential to stacked row housing. Some commercial activities, like a hairdresser, are proposed for the ground floor.
“It’s a very appropriate use for the property,” said Smithwick, adding that the site was zoned multiple housing residential when it was purchased and the zoning changed with the city’s new OCP in 2008.
“The population of Vernon is an aging one and demand for this kind of housing is appropriate. The 55-plus population wants this kind of housing.”
It’s anticipated Vernon council will consider the OCP and rezoning amendment bylaws Oct. 24.