Arden housing development closer to reality

Ronna-Rae Leonard -
Ronna-Rae Leonard
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The proposal for a 106-home development on Arden Road is closer to becoming a reality.

Courtenay council moved the multi-residential proposal forward Monday following a public hearing, giving third reading to rezoning and Official Community Plan amendment bylaws for the properties at 1360, 1470 and 1480 Arden Rd.

Terry Birkholz was the only speaker during the public hearing, addressing council on behalf of the developer, Arden Park Estates.

The proposed development — Arden Woods — is on slightly more than nine acres on Arden Road near Lake Trail Road and 13th Street. One hundred and six condominium and townhouse units are planned to be distributed between three- and four-storey buildings.

“This is a density of under 12 units per acre, well within sustainable development guidelines,” noted Birkholz. “We believe this is a great fit for this neighbourhood.”

The homes will be 840 to 1,150 square feet, and Birkholz expects they will sell for $180,000 to $225,000 in today’s market.

The developer would dedicate about 3.53 acres as park, which would contribute to the future pedestrian trail system from Tarling Park southward to Cumberland Road.

Throughout the past three years, Arden Park Estates has worked closely with biologists and community groups, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Ministry of Environment (MOE) to come up with a development that will best suit the property, explained Birkholz.

“In the end, we have contained the buildable areas to approximately 50 per cent of the land area,” he said. “Forty per cent of total land area will be dedicated to the city as park. When you add in greenspace that is present throughout the buildable, constructed area — by this I mean permeable and green planted areas — the amount of greenspace amounts to more than 66 per cent overall.”

The developers had many considerations to adjust to with regards to existing environmental conditions, explained Birkholz.

“In working with our biologists and DFO, we have identified new improvements that will be made with a constructed wetland, dramatically improving existing wetland vegetation and drainage patterns that will also have positive effects downstream,” he said. “As well as in dedicated parkland, we will be constructing a pathway that fits in perfectly with the city’s plans to attain a complete trailway system throughout west Courtenay to the Morrison Greenway.”

Plans also call for complete and safe pedestrian linkage from 13th Street through to Arden Road, he noted.

Council received one letter opposing the amendments.

Arden Road resident Cameron Jones was concerned about increased traffic, changes to stormwater flow rates and diminishing wildlife habitat.

“The proposed rezoning would allow increased development of the area and bring higher traffic to Arden Road,” he wrote. “Arden Road is a narrow, residential road with no designated sidewalks, curbs or below-ground storm water system ... Changing the zoning would likely bring even more vehicular traffic to a narrow road with high bicycle and pedestrian use.”

Jones also noted that decreasing the lot sizes and increasing the population would diminish the wildlife habitat and may result in the destruction and fragmentation of the wildlife corridor.

Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard was pleased with the proposal to create pedestrian and cycling networks and create more greenspace.

“It’s going in the right direction in terms of when we do developments, that we get things back,” she said. “That’s the balance we’re always talking about, and I’m pleased to see this is working in that direction.”

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