The public will gets its chance to provide feedback about a proposed affordable housing project planned for Cumberland.
Council passed first and second readings of bylaws for rezoning property and amending the official community plan (OCP) at their Oct. 13 meeting, paving the way for a public hearing next month.
The plan is to rezone the property at three adjacent Second Street lots in order to facilitate the construction of a multi-family residential building to help provide affordable housing in the community. The lots would be consolidated as part of the process.
“There’s a mix of families and income levels,” senior planner Karin Albert told council at the meeting.
There has been some outreach already since the project was announced, and some in the community have already contacted Village staff or members of council with concerns or expressions of support.
The project is being spearheaded by the Comox Valley Transition Society (CVTS) and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homeless Society. If approved, the project for a three-storey building will include 22 units. The building is to be owned by Island Health and would be leased to the two groups to manage the apartment. The initial plan was for 23 units, but the plan now includes space for a multi-purpose room for families to use.
Albert summarized some of the concerns some people have expressed, such as parking and traffic, as well as the development itself.
“The density was a concern to people,” she said. “The size of the building was an issue.”
Some members of council said they have heard from supporters too and that it was unfortunate some people were not supportive. Coun. Sean Sullivan said that residents should expect some higher buildings within the community, while Coun. Gwyn Sproule said she recognizes the area is one of the quietest parts of Cumberland but many do support the plan to provide more affordable housing for families.
“Things are changing here, and I think we’re doing the right thing,” she said.
The Village will be creating a new zone for the project called RM4. Coun. Vickey Brown had concerns about a lack of references to rentals in the zoning and whether the zone might be opening up opportunities for future development that does not provide for rentals.
The staff report notes Cumberland has a low vacancy rate of about 1. 3 per cent, which makes finding accommodations hard, especially for low-income families that cannot afford the average rent. It notes Dawn to Dawn has had 37 requests for housing for families since the beginning of the year, while CVTS has 21 women-led single-parent households on a waitlist for housing.
Council had referred the proposal to the advisory planning commission, homeless and affordable housing committee and the accessibility for input.
The public hearing will be held Nov. 18 at the Recreation Centre’s gymnasium, with provisions in place for social distancing.