A plan to build 30 affordable housing units in Vernon is moving forward.
At its Oct. 15 meeting, Vernon city council approved an initial step towards allowing the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to expand its Albert Place location in partnership with B.C. Housing and Interior Health.
The CMHA has proposed adding eight bachelor units as well as 22 units with two, three and four bedrooms to Albert Place, which is located at 3610 25 Avenue.
Albert Place currently has 17 single-bedroom units and one two-bedroom apartment. The expansion would bring the total number of units to 48.
With more units comes more required parking spaces, but the project would actually get fewer spaces than usual. The normal requirement for a 48-unit complex is 77 parking spaces, but the current proposal calls for just 32.
The rationale presented to council was that fewer parking spaces would be needed due to the lower percentage of affordable housing tenants who own vehicles.
Coun. Kari Gares agreed with the rationale, citing her own experience managing a similar apartment building with 75 units.
“I think we have a total of maybe 10 to 15 spaces altogether for 75 units, and we don’t typically have issues.”
Coun. Scott Anderson said he had gone over the proposal’s parking study thoroughly, and wasn’t satisfied.
“I’ve got some real problems with it,” he said. Chief among them was the possibility that CMHA might leave the site in the future and the zoning would remain the same, leaving inadequate parking for the next ownership.
Mayor Victor Cumming also weighed in with concerns about having more children walking to school on a street that’s ill-equipped to handle pedestrians.
“I have some significant concerns with 24 Avenue,” he said. “It has no sidewalk on this side of the road and if you head west from this site, every site after this is multi-family.”
“All the children from those families that are going to school are going to go down 24 Avenue because that’s the direction to Fulton and that’s the direction to Mission (Hill) School.”
Council voted in favour of the parking variance, with Anderson the only councillor who opposed the motion.
The project needs to go to a public hearing before council can make a final decision. That public hearing will take place Nov. 12. On Mayor Cummings’s recommendation, city staff will also be looking into the feasibility of a sidewalk on 24 Avenue.
The proposed expansion is fully funded through B.C. Housing’s Community Housing Fund program.