The developer of the former RCMP site on Doyle Avenue will have to go back to the drawing board if they wish to obtain a development permit for their 25-storey Muse development.
Council unanimously rejected the application, saying the developer's definition of "attainable housing" as it pertained to 26 rental studio suites within the 259 unit tower is far from attainable.
Planner Terry Barton told council the definition of attainable rental rate as outlined in the application is 30 per cent of the median total income of households in the Central Okanagan.
Mayor Tom Dyas, who steered council to a discussion on the rate itself, said those calculations worked out to a housing income of $80,000 annually which would establish a fixed monthly rent of $2,000.
"I believe this agreement does not fit within the means of looking at establishment of affordable housing within this community," said Dyas.
"I think it is important for council to have a discussion around this before we go any further as it doesn't seem to fit the boundaries, in my view, with regards to whether it be attainable or affordable."
While one of the previous council's top priorities was to promote rental housing of all types, veteran Coun. Luke Stack said he took issue with the affordability or attainability of paying $2,000 a month for a studio apartment.
"I am having a hard time squaring that with the fact you can go onto Castanet and look up studio units that are renting for $1,350, $1,400, $1,450 a month. This agreement says they have to rent them potentially for up to $700 more than the market rate today," said Stack.
"Comparing this to what we saw last week, they used the income as CMHC's median renter income. A median renter income is $47,500 per anum.
"That would produce a studio rental rate of about $1,180 a month. That is below what you can rent today."
Not cheap, he says, but more attainable.
"I was insulted by this report," said Coun. Maxine DeHart, while Coun. Mohini Singh called it "disingenuous."
"This is city-owned land," continued Singh. "We need to lead by example."
Council also wondered what a number of students who spoke in support of the project and the need for affordable rentals downtown during the public hearing back in July, would think of the affordability of $2,000 a month for a studio apartment.
"A word to the applicant moving forward," Dyas concluded.
"There would be a lot of potential recommendations that could be made, but in watching what my colleagues have said will give the applicant some fairly good direction as to what we are looking for when this comes back to council again."