‘Truly affordable housing’ could help ease Courtenay vacancy rate

Municipal councils often have reasons to be concerned with development proposals.

Municipal councils often have reasons to be concerned with development proposals.

Councillors do not automatically shoot down proposals. Councils frequently insist on amendments that address their concerns, developers comply and building proceeds.

Rarely is a proposal greeted with the enthusiasm that Courtenay council bestowed last week on a plan to build 33 small rental units on Cumberland Road.

One councillor described it as “truly affordable housing.”

Mathot Homes Ltd. is asking for an amendment to the City’s zoning bylaw to create a comprehensive development zone.

Since the property is already designated as multi-residential in Courtenay’s Official Community Plan, the request does not seem like a big leap.

The amendment would allow single-occupancy bachelor-type units of 300 to 350 square feet on a vacant triangular site at Cumberland Road and Ninth Street.

While too small for families, the new units could be a godsend to single people having trouble making their current rent payments and might even get some homeless people off the streets.

The 33-unit building would be three storeys high and units on the bottom floor would be wheelchair-accessible. All units would be wheelchair-friendly, making the building even more enticing to people whose challenges limit their income.

“I’d say this is the first type of proposal like this in the city that we’ve seen in a number of years,” planning services director Peter Crawford told council. “If we look at the direction we have within our Official Community Plan about mixing uses and trying to put more density in our downtown district, giving a mix of housing types, this would meet those goals,” he added.

A public hearing Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers will allow people to comment on the proposal. Considering the tight local rental housing market, people had better have a strong argument if they wish to oppose this bid.


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