Peachland seniors housing at centre of BC Housing parking dispute sent to public hearing

Parking spat goes to public

A dispute between Peachland and BC Housing over the lack of parking for a proposed seniors complex will be taken to the public.

BC Housing and the Peachland Seniors' Support Society are proposing to build a 73-unit seniors complex on 6th Street behind a seniors building they completed in 2019.

The new building will be a mirror image of the existing building, council heard at its regular Tuesday meeting.

The lack of parking is the most contentious point of dispute between the developer and the municipality, but not the only one.

Zoning amendments are needed for the project to proceed. Council agreed to give first and second readings to the rezoning application. That will send the proposal to a public hearing, but objections can still be raised at the third-reading stage.

“We can discuss more details at third reading,” said Mayor Patrick Van Minsel. “We just give it first and second reading, bring it to the public, let’s hear what they have to say, and then at third, we go into the nitty-gritty and the details.”

Coun. Terry Condon said council had just received correspondence from BC Housing and the Ministry of Housing they need more time to consider.

BC Housing has said on-site parking is not financially possible for the non-profit project and suggested the municipality close tiny 5th Street to create parking for the complex.

The provincial agency, in a recent letter and appearance before council, also indicated the project is at risk if differences aren’t resolved soon.

BC Housing wants the municipality to waive its fees for the project, and said in a letter that council agreed to that earlier.

“BC Housing funding for Phase 1 of the project was conditional on the District’s acceptance of a 60-year lease term waiver of DCCs and planning fees,” its letter to council said. “Council supported these conditions and the building was completed in March 2019. In February 2020, Council resolved to support a second phase of seniors housing, with the same conditions applicable to Phase 1.

“In winter of 2023, the District notified BC Housing that its support may be contingent on two new conditions: 1. That the project be required to pay DCCs and Planning fees. 2. That the project be required to be redesigned for an on-site parkade, or pay $1.5 million to the district in lieu.”

BC Housing has offered to pay half the DCC and planning fees, in exchange for getting a complete break on the parking requirements.

“Staff do not support the proposal to close 5th Street nor to dedicate public parking spaces to PSSS residents,” a report to council said.

Darin Schaal, Peachland’s director of planning and development services, said closing the road wouldn’t matter anyway.

“There are other options. Instead of closing the road, you could simply, if council wanted, you could vary the parking requirements.

“The preference from staff’s perspective would be don’t make the same mistake as Phase 1, let’s get parking on site,” Schaal said.

Public parking spaces shouldn’t be given away, he added.

“The 5th Street parking area, these are the public parking areas on 5th Street, are not surplus to the needs of the community,” he said.

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