Long ago, the Town of Sidney and its elected council realized that as the need for a diverse collection of homes grew in their community, one of their only options was to see Sidney grow — up.
With limited land available for new development, the Town embarked on a series of policy and planning documents to support increasing housing density within their boundaries. Marlaina Elliott, the Town’s director of development services, outlined that support and what have turned into a wide range of development options in Sidney.
“A key aspect of implementing this vision is a planning focus on Smart Growth principles,” Elliot explained in an email to the PNR.
Those principles, she said, support mixed use, compact development linked and close to amenities that the Town already has to offer.
“Locating people in proximity to everything they need on a daily basis supports local businesses and the economy,” she explained. “It reduces impacts on the environment from vehicle travel and encourages social interaction and a sense of community.”
Within the Town’s official community plan (OCP) and zoning bylaws are encouragements to developers to offer a range of housing options — single family homes to micro-units. The latter, Elliot said, are generally more attainable market housing units and Town council this year approved a project for four micro-units. Staff, she continued, will evaluate how this type if housing can be better incorporated into local bylaws, in the face of their apparent popularity and market success.
Elliot noted the market for detached single family homes close to downtown Sidney remains strong.
“Council has re-affirmed their commitment to this housing over the past year by supporting several development applications.”
Staff, she added, are also evaluating other multi-use housing options, such as live/work units that could meet the needs of residents and workers.
The addition of a lot of new units, Elliot pointed out, will mean a significant impact on parking in downtown Sidney. Space is limited and the cost of providing parking impacts affordability, but she said the proximity to downtown could see some people choosing to walk or use transit, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and in parking stalls.
As more Baby Boomers and Millennials choose Sidney and its urban lifestyle, Elliot said downtown living will command an increasing share of the local residential market, helping create a diverse population.