Riverbrook proposal keeps housing density at forefront of discussions

Some councillors are not keen to see high density developments, while others point out how quickly we run out of space.

Just as with the Kingfisher Development Corporation townhome proposal, some on council don’t see any value in increasing density, in light of the Riverbrook Estates proposal for Liard Street.

Leonard Kerkhoff presented an updated look at the proposal and some changes made to the plans in light of some concerns voiced earlier in the process at the August 5 council meeting.

The potential rezoning for the land which would allow staged development of detached housing, apartment buildings and townhouses, has reached second reading but not after Phil Germuth voiced his reasons against scraping proposal all together.

His arguments followed similar lines of previous concerns of his, that Kitimat doesn’t need a boost to housing density.

“There’s only one reason you take a plot of land made for 80 units and put 217 in there,” he said. “I still believe the developer can achieve a healthy, respectful profit margin by leaving the zoning as is and building a combination of possible ranchers and bungalows.”

The density as proposed is too much for comfort for him.

“This doesn’t fit in with what Kitimat needs, there’s way too many units within one small area,” he said, also saying that it’s all speculation in anticipation of future major projects in Kitimat.

However Mary Murphy had a different approach, pointing out how quickly Kitimat became tied-up with lack of available housing.

“Not very long ago we were being slammed for not having enough housing in Kitimat, and we were dealing with that all the time,” she said. “I think we need to let this process go forward and take their statements and decide exactly how we feel after all the public has put in their input.”

The proponent held an information session last Tuesday, which is in addition to the municipal public hearings.

Germuth still was not swayed and said there is still lots of private land to be developed in town, and many properties that should stand for re-development before the town should allow high density neighbourhoods.

Other councillors had different ideas.

Mario Feldhoff said he looked forward to the developer’s planned open house set for tonight at the Riverlodge to gather further public feedback about the proposal and thought it would be inappropriate to kill the proposal so early in the process at second reading. Edwin Empinado also spoke to keeping the process going.

Rob Goffinet wasn’t prepared to give second reading either but for the reason that he wanted more information on the application and had suggested tabling second reading until more information, for example a traffic study, could be completed.

Germuth and Goffinet were outnumbered to a vote, which gave the application second reading.

Project proponent Leonard Kerkhoff did speak to the proposal earlier in the meeting.

Among the details he shared was potential plans to construct a public playground at the northern end of the development, and showed plans which showed a planned 24 metre gap between existing homes on Liard and the new three storey townhouses.

He spoke to the phased approach where 200 homes won’t go on the market at the same time.

He also noted plans built-in to the townhouses that would allow an easy installation of an elevator in future upgrades.

As for the community need for redeveloping existing properties, he said they’ve looked at that possibility, but expectations by land owners is very unrealistic, and redeveloping existing units in town could potentially cost six times as much as building a brand new development, given real estate costs.


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