Council nixes staff wishes

Kelowna city council went against staff wishes on two separate development applications, Monday.

In both cases, staff recommended against the applications.

One was for a 17-unit rental apartment on a single-home lot on Belaire Avenue, the other was for conversion of an accessory building into a carriage house on Harvard Road.

The Belaire application would see a four storey apartment building on the single property with 16 micro suites and one caretaker apartment.

Staff recommended against the project due mainly to the small size of the property.

However, Keith Funk with New Town Services, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said attempts to consolidate properties on either side were unsuccessful.

On one side is a home operated by Freedom's Door, on the other, a house operated by the Okanagan Halfway House Society.

Funk said neither organization was willing to relocate.

It was that rationale that swayed some on council.

"You need to keep an open mind when you are listening to presentations, because there was new information that was given by the presenter," said Coun. Tracy Gray.

"I can understand staff's position...however, I believe we can move this to public hearing in light of hearing who the neighbours are, and that there seems to be little opportunity to maximize the space."

Coun. Charlie Hodge also gave the development his blessing, however, he did have some concerns about parking. The developer is proposing 17 parking spots for the 17 units.

"It's a disaster waiting to happen."

Hodge also lamented the glut of micro-suites coming on the market in Kelowna.

Coun. Luke Stack and Mayor Colin Basran were not swayed by the applicants' pleas.

"I have made no secret about wanting to densify our city, and while short term this does that, when I hear staff say this is half of what it potentially could be...we're actually not densifying our city to its fullest potential," said Basran.

"While I appreciate, short term it does that. I think longer vision is the one that I'm looking at. It does hurt me a bit, because I do love the design."

Staff recommended against the second application because the property is outside the city's permanent growth boundary, and the neighbourhood does not have the necessary urban amenities to support even a modest increase in density, and represents an inefficient use of the land.

Property owner Wayne Henney told council the addition amounted to a suite on the upper floor of the accessory building which his son would be living in.

Henney added the addition would not increase the footprint of the building and surrounding neighbours had no issue with the addition.

"I think the intent of two homes, knowing they could have a basement suite without rezoning helps sway me," said Coun. Stack.

"I think with the existing building, the way it fits in with the other carriage houses in the neighbourhood, and the arguments presented by the applicant are reasonable. I also recognize staff are guided by policy, but I think today I'm persuaded to go with the applicant."

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