A special meeting of council was held March 8 to address neighbourhood concerns over a 2019 development proposal on Quatsino Boulevard that could get underway as early as next month.
The proposal, submitted by BC Housing in partnership with the Tamitik Status of Women Association (TSWA), calls for a mixed-use residential building at 461 Quatsino Blvd that provides housing and services for individuals and families impacted by violence against women, youth, and children. The building will also offer a 24-7 daycare facility for parents in need of additional support.
Even though the land was already zoned for a development like this over 20 years ago, residents are concerned with a number of issues, including decreased property values, public safety, increased neighbourhood activity and overall height and design of the building.
“Back in March 2019, we raised several issues regarding buffering, fencing and lighting, all the way to asking the council to send a letter to BC Housing regarding the height of the project,” said Martin Mcllwrath, a resident of Cranberry Street.
“It’s nice that we’re having this meeting now, but we raised all our issues back in 2019. Do you expect us to re-raise our issues, or are you guys actually going to respond to everything we talked about initially?”
The residents had asked council to send a letter to BC Housing asking them to consider reducing the building’s height, which will be the highest in the neighbourhood, by one storey.
“Now I got the letter (from BC Housing) and it didn’t answer the question that we asked the council to pose to BC Housing. Which was, if the height of the project went down to three stories would the project still proceed?” said Mcllwrath.
Mayor Philip Germuth said BC Housing was not willing to change the height of the building.
“This is a development permit so if (the public’s concerns) has to do with the height or the zoning, that’s already been decided,” he said.
With residents still raising concerns about the buildings buffering measurement, Councillor Lani Gibson stepped in and talked about the benefits of the proposed measurements.
“What I’m seeing between Cranberry and this project is five metres, which is a fairly significant buffer,” she said.
“Also, what I’m seeing in the designs are a combination of 15-metre high trees and two-metre high shrubs, which will create a five-metre wide landscape barrier,”
The development permit application was proposed by Anthony Boni of Boni Maddison Architects.
TSWA’s mission is to promote a healthy community by offering ongoing support programs, education and opportunities while prioritizing equality and safety. TWSA’s executive director, Michelle Martin, assured those attending the meeting the building will have little to no impact on the neighbourhood.
“Tamitik has operated in Kitimat for over 40 years, and I believe the society has proven that we can operate in a residential area without posing any extra risks of danger to the existing residents,” Martin said. “There isn’t any evidence that suggests our operation in the last 25 years in the current residential area that we operate out of has affected the property value of the neighbouring households.”
Though other issues were raised about the building, council was confident that they already answered the majority of the questions in 2019. That said, there are still some specifics that need to be ironed out for the project. Neighbourhood consultations will continue in the coming days.
BC Housing will fund the construction of the facility with $14 million, as well as cover salaries for staff at the facility for 60 years, once it has been completed.
TSWA is responsible for raising $6 million to cover the rest of the construction, bringing the total cost of the facility to over $20 million.