Kitimat councillor questions community need high density development

Kitimat is considering a zoning amendment for a Kildala-area housing complex that could allow for 217 units.

Does Kitimat need a new housing complex that could provide up to 217 individual units?

Council will wrestle with that question as the process has begun on a zoning amendment for the Riverbrook Estates.

That development is proposed for the area in the undeveloped last beyond Liard and Nadina Streets.

The complex would have apartment buildings, townhouses and detached housing at full build, but project proponent Leonard Kerkhoff said it would be built in phases to ensure a market for the construction.

With a 5-1 vote, gave first reading to the zoning amndment and council has issued public notice for the proposal which would effectively subdivide the parcels of land owned by Riverbrook Estates. Right now the proponent could go ahead and build 80 living units on the site.

A staff report to council shows the site in question was created by subdivision in 1968 and a 70-unit subdivision to complete Liard and Nadina Streets was approved in 1981, but work was halted in 1982.

Among council’s suggestions is to expand the area of public notice to nearby homeowners, which currently cuts out around 90 metres.

Mario Feldhoff also suggested pushing the developer to hold open houses.

“It’s a very large development proposal, and it’s exciting but at the same time potentially a concern to some of the immediate neighbours,” he said.

Meanwhile the idea of building out the community rather than in concerned councillor Phil Germuth — the sole opponent to giving the zoning amendment first reading — who thinks allowing rezoning to accommodate so many more units goes against the community plan.

“Back in 1952 Clarence Stein designed this community for us. It was planned out for well over 20,000 people. At this point we’re nowhere near there,” he said. “I see no point in trying to jam possibly 217 families in to the space where 80 should be going. This is not Vancouver, this is still Kitimat. There’s nothing wrong with having people that have yards and driveways.”

He said it doesn’t make sense to open up land to new development when places in town need to be re-developed as it is.