A proposed development would see two four-storey apartment buildings erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Sports Centre. Council voted 6-1 Monday, Jan. 25, in favour of rezoning the property. (Google Maps)

A proposed development would see two four-storey apartment buildings erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Sports Centre. Council voted 6-1 Monday, Jan. 25, in favour of rezoning the property. (Google Maps)

Okanagan city paves way for potential affordable housing project

Armstrong council votes 6-1 to rezone an Adair Street city-owned property despite opposition

The City of Armstrong has moved ahead with a plan to create affordable housing at the expense of some parkland.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of rezoning a city-owned parcel on Adair Street, located behind the Nor-Val Sports Centre at the rear of Memorial Park, from park to multi-use residential. This will allow a maximum of 80 affordable rental housing units to be built on the site, something Armstrong sorely is lacking according to a housing needs study.

Council made the move Monday, Jan, 25, after reconvening a public hearing on the matter that originally started and was adjourned Jan. 18. The original hearing had a total of nine members of the public speak regarding the bylaws, but mostly about the proposed project.

On Monday, 22 new letters were received, as was a six-page report (p.75) for council in favour of the rezoning prepared by city planner Dan Passmore. Seven people spoke on the project via Zoom including Elizabeth Gustafson, whose property backs onto the site.

“I’m a long-time resident and the woods there provide a buffer zone between nine homes and the sewer ponds,” she said. “Removing the woods will be devastating to the wildlife and will be more vulnerable to the ponds. I’m worried about the height (proposed project could be four storeys and feature two buildings). Where are the people that are going to live in them? I’d consider this if this was made for families.”

READ MORE: ‘Affordable’ apartments hot topic in Armstrong

A number of citizens spoke and wrote vehemently against the proposed development, questioning the size of the proposal, or whether there’s enough infrastructure to support though nothing has been determined as what will actually be built on the site.

Speaking in favour of the project was Ryan Nitchie, who believes the city should play an active role in encouraging and supporting diversity within its housing inventory.

“The city has, by precedence, participated directly and indirectly in supporting various forms of housing in our community,” said Nitchie, citing examples of Heaton Place, Three Links Lodge and the Legion Homes. He also pointed out the city did not support a multi-family residential application for Wood Avenue.

The public hearing lasted 37 minutes. Council’s debate lasted one minute longer.

“I sense, from what I’m hearing, the community as a whole is in favour of affordable housing, it’s just location, and size and all that sort of thing that goes along with it,” said Coun. Gary Froats. “The important thing to note tonight is we’re not talking about form and character or the size of buildings. All we’re doing is setting some zoning. The structure, number of units, how it will look is down the road. This probably should have been rezoned many years ago…We need to look long and hard at what we put in there.”

Coun. Jim Wright was the lone opponent on council. He said he was disappointed the piece of property will no longer be parkland.

“I was a bit torn at the beginning with regard to the need for affordable housing, then when I looked at the property and saw the parkland there, yes, Memorial Park is developed the most but there is parkland,” said Wright. “Technically, it’s property we can’t replace. I can’t support the motion. There are other properties, smaller, granted, but that would mean affordable housing would be fewer units in a more desirable place and closer to the community.”

Mayor Chris Pieper, who celebrated 32 years since being elected to Armstrong council on the weekend, and is a life-long resident, said everyone’s home in Armstrong was green space at one time.

“This growth has enabled our schools to grow and prosper and all of our clubs to survive,” he said. “If we cut development, we wouldn’t have clubs. We wouldn’t have amenities. The only amenity we’d have is a four-lane highway to Vernon to do our work there. This rezoning will allow the process to be sustainable as we go forward.”

Coun. Paul Britton took issue with residents fear-mongering over this and a number of issues, including spreading misinformation, he said, over this proposal and the one planned for the Royal York Golf Course.

“They make it sound like we’re removing all of the parkland and that’s definitely not the case,” said Britton. “The accusations by people against mayor, council and city staff of wrongdoings and not being transparent, or making serious errors in judgment and breaking community trust, we put a lot of time and effort into this. We’ve always tried to keep the best interests of our community in the forefront.

Britton said the city does have the infrastructure to move forward with affordable housing on the site.

The city made affordable housing its No. 1 priority – voted on unanimously by council, as Britton pointed out – for its 2021-2025 strategic plan.

READ MORE: Armstrong responds to complaints of businesses violating COVID orders



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

housing planMunicipal Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

C.E. “Ned” Bentley owned a garage on Shaughnessy Avenue, now Lakeshore Drive in Summerland. Bentley later went on to serve on Summerland’s council and was recognized with the Good Citizen Award in 1939. (Summerland Museum photo)
Former Summerland reeve once ran garage

C.E. “Ned” Bentley was a prominent figure in Summerland’s past.

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is offering home compost bins at reduced prices until March 25. (Contributed)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen offers compost bins at wholesale costs

Pricing offer at participating stores in place until March 25

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

Displays and programming have continued at the Vernon Public Art Gallery despite pandemic restrictions. (Lianne Viau file photo)
Support keeps North Okanagan art groups’ lights on

Despite pandemic restrictions, art gallery and others sustaining the storm

Most Read