North Shore plan, possible zoning changes aim to fill housing gap

More North Shore density?

The City of Kamloops is eyeing potential zoning changes to support developing "missing middle" housing — lower density builds which fill the gap between single-family homes and high rises — on the North Shore.

Andrew Macaulay, a planner working with the city on the document, presented mayor and councillors with the latest draft of the North Shore Neighbourhood Plan at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.

Macaulay reviewed the plan’s future land use framework — which outlines proposed levels of density and types of housing for various North Shore neighbourhoods — and the plan’s big moves, some of which provide ideas and directions to support new housing opportunities.

“The framework provides high level direction, but where these housing types would be ultimately permitted would depend on the zoning, and some potential zoning changes have been identified as part of this draft plan process,” Macaulay said.

“These will be presented to council for consideration at [a] date following plan adoption.”

According to the draft plan, missing middle housing is ground-oriented low density developments like townhouses, row houses or triplexes. The plan states these types of homes are often more affordable than single-family houses and can be “sensitively integrated” into low density neighbourhoods.

“This type of housing would be encouraged in areas with access to transit amenities, including key corridors such as Fortune Drive, areas adjacent to mixed use districts such as the North Shore Town Centre, and on corner lots and adjacent assembled lots in urban-designated residential areas,” Macaulay said.

He said the city could develop a new zone to specifically support the development of this type of missing middle housing, something done in other municipalities like Kelowna.

“[Kelowna] has an RU7 infill housing zone that permits up to four dwellings on select properties with lane access,” Macaulay said.

Macaulay said the city is also looking at introducing new compact lot zoning across the North Shore, permitting large lots to be subdivided for duplexes or more compact single family lots.

He said a recent survey showed 80 per cent of respondents supported this type of sensitive infill across the North Shore.

“This would also be implemented through a zoning amendment following adoption of the neighbourhood plan,” Macaulay said.

Macaulay said staff could look into zoning options and include them as part of the zoning and land use amendments proposed after the North Shore plan is adopted.

Coun. Kathy Sinclair said she supported the plan’s identified big moves related to housing.

“Given the housing shortage here, and particularly the shortage of rental housing — which is affecting North Shore residents most acutely, according to the report — it's a no brainer, and we need to do everything we can to increase the level of housing,” Sinclair said.

Coun. Sadie Hunter said the city’s development and sustainability committee recently heard a presentation from the Canadian Home Builder’s Association where they indicated specific zoning will help them plan.

“If that is a recommendation or a suggestion as a possible path, what would that look like? And is that direction that is needed from us now?” Hunter asked.

Marvin Kiwatkowski, the city’s development, engineering and sustainability director, said if staff hears further support from council to explore a type of zone like Kelowna’s, they will look into those possibilities.

Kiwatkowski said any zoning changes would be brought forward to council after the neighbourhood plan is adopted.

According to Macaulay, the draft North Shore Neighbourhood Plan will be brought to stakeholders and the development industry for feedback. The final plan will be presented to council in late September.

More information on the North Shore Neighbourhood Plan can be found on the City of Kamloops' Lets Talk page.

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