Cumberland is considering rezoning land for an affordable housing project based around individual homes.
The site in question is on undeveloped land on Ulverston Avenue near the intersection with Royston Road. The site is currently zoned as rural, so a new zone would have to be created to capture the mix of uses.
“The proposal is to create 22 affordable home ownership lots,” senior planner Karin Albert told council at their June 27 meeting.
These would be small, single-family modular homes. BC Housing would provide equity through Affordable Home Ownership Program (OHAP) for the project, which would be aimed at middle-income earners who could not otherwise afford a home.
The project is in the early stages and one of the next steps will be to draft an agreement covering all parties.
“If this rezoning does go ahead, there would be a specific agreement with the village, BC Housing and the developer,” Albert added.
In the village’s case, this would cover matters over which it would have some control such as parking requirements for the development and lot density.
The 2.67-ha site is known as Lot A and currently includes Douglas firs and red cedars on the southern portion. As well, a small seasonal watercourse runs along the southern boundary.
There is a green space proposal as part of the development plan. As far as housing, the plan is to include some mixed-used live-work lots, which would help the village toward its goals of providing more affordable housing and increasing density.
“It’s fairly close to downtown,” Albert added.
Coun. Vickey Brown said the project looked interesting but had questions about protecting the natural surroundings, even with the green space included in the proposal.
“I’m quite concerned about the tree retention on this property,” she said.
Albert responded that the village had asked for information about the mature trees and said some of them might not be included in the park.
Coun. Gwyn Sproule had questions about the old railway corridor and trail right-of-way in the area, but she liked the concept of small live-work units, comparing it to another development in the Comox Valley.
“I’ve always admired Tin Town and Rosewall Crescent,” she said. “This sounds a little bit like that.”
Some of the permitted uses in the proposed new zone include industrial, fitness studios, artist studios, microbreweries, wineries or distilleries, retail, coffee shop and child care.
Council members also brought up questions about the process for drafting a memorandum of understanding and a project agreement for the three parties, wildlife corridors and the need for Cumberland to consider ‘middle’ housing such as town homes for further development at the site.
Coun. Jesse Ketler said much of the information for similar agreements they had seen comes from larger cities and that Cumberland could use information from smaller communities like Tofino that had worked on similar housing projects.
“I think it would be good for us to look at their documents,” she said.
For now, council is referring the proposal to its advisory planning commission and homelessness and affordable housing committee for comment, as well as having staff draft a master partnering memorandum of understanding with BC Housing.