A majority of councillors in Sidney were not convinced opponents of a proposed condo building were suffering from anything other than NIMBY-ism when they approved zoning amendments that clear the path to development.
On Monday council, in a close 4-3 vote, approved amendments that would give the developer of the condos on First Street the ability to build 14 units — six of which are being granted through the Town’s bonus density policy.
During a public hearing, seven of 14 speakers opposed the proposed 2.5 storey building. The prevailing comment from most of the residents was that they aren’t opposed to development — just this one next door.
“I’m not against development,” said Frank Garnett, who lives to the immediate north of the site, “but not at the expense of existing residents.”
“I’m not against development,” echoed John Bruce, a resident on First Street. “But I am concerned about this development. It’s not compatible with existing structures.”
Most councillors said they felt this wasn’t a good enough reason to trump the community’s overall need for a diverse supply of housing.
“The voices were just in the neighbourhood,” said Coun. Barbara Fallot. “How much of that was just that … and not about the project itself?”
She pointed out that under current zoning, the developer can build a structure of the same mass — whether it’s the eight allowed units, or 14 including the six bonus units with the Town’s blessing.
To get those bonus units, the developer has offered to contribute $30,000 to the Town’s amenity fund. Coun. Peter Wainwright said he wasn’t comfortable that the extra units were worth the money.
“For me, it’s about the bonus density. It’s allowed under the (Local Government Act) for specific reasons — such as for affordable housing, special needs housing or for amenities.”
Wainwright added diversity in housing types is not a legitimate reason for the Town to allow bonus density.
‘I’m hearing from residents that they don’t think that this is a reasonable trade off.”
Mayor Steve Price said the project meets the Town’s requirements outside of the bonus density issue. Yet, he continued, the official community plan encourages developers to come up with diverse styles of housing.
“It’s something the Town needs and what the OCP asks for,” Price said.
In the vote, Price, Mervyn Lougher-Goodey, Cam McLennan and Fallot said yes to the proposal; Tim Chad, Wainwright and Erin Bremner did not.
The proponents of the building at 9667 First Street will have to apply for development and building permits prior to construction.