A major rental project is a step closer to realisation.
On Monday, Kelowna City Council agreed to give first reading to a rezoning application for six properties on Harvey Avenue and Saucier Avenue.
The developer, Westrich Saucier Developments, is offering 171 accommodations in a six-story building.
Terry Barton, director of the city’s development planning department, said that application was submitted to the city in April 2021, however, the developer was advised to wait until Kelowna’s Official Community Plan 2040 was completed.
Barton explained that the developer had been advised that his project would benefit more from OCP 2040 and the new MF3r – Apartment Rental Only zone.
The large apartment complex would include a two-story parking lot with 189 spaces with amenity space at the top of the podium and vehicle access on Saucier Avenue.
City staff insisted it was just a rezoning request and that city council had not considered form and character. The renderings were only intended to give the council an idea of the types of buildings allowed in the new MF3r area.
Councilor Charlie Hodge asked if the lease-only project was the idea of the developer or city staff.
“My concern is that we seem to approve quite regularly lately of leasing only in scenarios like this and not allowing the public to buy, buy,” Councilor Hodge said.
However, Barton confirmed that the decision to have the rental-only sub-area was made by the developer. Anyway, Councilor Hodge asked for a tally of the number of leasing and market projects recently approved.
City staff said they will be preparing a presentation on rental housing statistics in the new year.
Councilor Loyal Wooldridge asked if there would be a review of below-market rents and argued that rental-only sub-areas were beneficial to the community. City staff said more data should be collected and compiled into some sort of report.
“We know we are in deficit, our vacancy is 0.06% citywide. So from my perspective we need to keep our foot on the pedal here in terms of building more rental-only zoning,” Councilor Wooldridge said.
Councilor Luke Stack said he could support the proposal as is, without the tear.
“We are not talking about the building today. The developer might come back with a completely different vision. We’re talking about zoning,” Councilor Stack said.
He also praised the proposal to include rental-only tenure, be on a transportation corridor, be located in the urban core, and be a low-rise building.
The next steps in this project will be for the Kelowna City Council to review and review the development permit and any development variance permits that are submitted.
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