Cameron Contracting has applied to construct two four-unit multi-family buildings at 2800 Arden Rd. Scott Stanfield photo

Cameron Contracting has applied to construct two four-unit multi-family buildings at 2800 Arden Rd. Scott Stanfield photo

Residents say multi-unit proposal in west Courtenay breaching covenants

Area residents are taking issue with a proposed multi-unit project that brings covenants into question on a property in west Courtenay.

Council is in the process of considering a development permit, with variances, to allow Cameron Contracting to construct a pair of four-unit multi-family buildings at 2800 Arden Rd. A covenant — meant to facilitate a seven-unit development — needs to be amended to allow the eight units, as well as the building form and fence requirements.

“We’ve asked for a couple of relaxations on the covenants to support the neighbours,” said Don Cameron, president of Cameron Contracting, noting eight units are a function of how the buildings line up. “It’s a complicated site.”

Ian Buck, the city’s director of development services, said the story dates back to a 2010 application. The property was zoned multi-family. The intent was that Habitat for Humanity would buy it at a low price, or receive it for a nominal fee. However, the location was too far from services to be viable for Habitat’s model of housing low-income families with children.

“That’s not entirely true,” said Brent Toohey, who lives across the street from the proposed development. “If the land was freely given to them, or for a nominal fee, I’m sure that would change the tune a bit, because Habitat for Humanity doesn’t rely on bus services…That’s one of the flaws in this whole thing. It’s been developed and handled the wrong way. Who’s held accountable?”

Ron Zilkie, who lives next door to the site, finds it odd to have a multi-family development in a rural neighbourhood. He notes there are eight covenants in place.

“He’s (Cameron) breaching all the covenants that were put in place,” Zilkie said. “That’s what’s protecting me and the neighbourhood…It’s very disappointing.”

One of his biggest concerns is the height of the building, which he said will be three storeys. Buck, however, said it will look like a two-storey duplex if viewed from street level.

“Technically, you’re not supposed to alter the lay of the land,” Zilkie said. “He’s bringing it up seven feet.”

Cameron said the lie of the land and the architectural restrictions forced the company to add a walkout basement provision.

He also notes neighbours asked the company to change the fence lines on one side.

“The form and character of this building is similar to what we’ve been building in that neighbourhood for the last three years,” Cameron said.

Toohey and Zilkie both took part in the city’s first virtual set of public hearings Dec. 14. Several residents spoke about 2800 Arden Rd. A neighbourhood petition has garnered 30 signatures against the project.

Council is expected to further discuss the application in January.