A proposed development would see two four-storey apartment buildings erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Sports Centre. Council voted 6-1 Monday, Jan. 25, in favour of rezoning the property. (Google Maps)

A proposed development would see two four-storey apartment buildings erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Sports Centre. Council voted 6-1 Monday, Jan. 25, in favour of rezoning the property. (Google Maps)

Okanagan city paves way for potential affordable housing project

Armstrong council votes 6-1 to rezone an Adair Street city-owned property despite opposition

The City of Armstrong has moved ahead with a plan to create affordable housing at the expense of some parkland.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of rezoning a city-owned parcel on Adair Street, located behind the Nor-Val Sports Centre at the rear of Memorial Park, from park to multi-use residential. This will allow a maximum of 80 affordable rental housing units to be built on the site, something Armstrong sorely is lacking according to a housing needs study.

Council made the move Monday, Jan, 25, after reconvening a public hearing on the matter that originally started and was adjourned Jan. 18. The original hearing had a total of nine members of the public speak regarding the bylaws, but mostly about the proposed project.

On Monday, 22 new letters were received, as was a six-page report (p.75) for council in favour of the rezoning prepared by city planner Dan Passmore. Seven people spoke on the project via Zoom including Elizabeth Gustafson, whose property backs onto the site.

“I’m a long-time resident and the woods there provide a buffer zone between nine homes and the sewer ponds,” she said. “Removing the woods will be devastating to the wildlife and will be more vulnerable to the ponds. I’m worried about the height (proposed project could be four storeys and feature two buildings). Where are the people that are going to live in them? I’d consider this if this was made for families.”

READ MORE: ‘Affordable’ apartments hot topic in Armstrong

A number of citizens spoke and wrote vehemently against the proposed development, questioning the size of the proposal, or whether there’s enough infrastructure to support though nothing has been determined as what will actually be built on the site.

Speaking in favour of the project was Ryan Nitchie, who believes the city should play an active role in encouraging and supporting diversity within its housing inventory.

“The city has, by precedence, participated directly and indirectly in supporting various forms of housing in our community,” said Nitchie, citing examples of Heaton Place, Three Links Lodge and the Legion Homes. He also pointed out the city did not support a multi-family residential application for Wood Avenue.

The public hearing lasted 37 minutes. Council’s debate lasted one minute longer.

“I sense, from what I’m hearing, the community as a whole is in favour of affordable housing, it’s just location, and size and all that sort of thing that goes along with it,” said Coun. Gary Froats. “The important thing to note tonight is we’re not talking about form and character or the size of buildings. All we’re doing is setting some zoning. The structure, number of units, how it will look is down the road. This probably should have been rezoned many years ago…We need to look long and hard at what we put in there.”

Coun. Jim Wright was the lone opponent on council. He said he was disappointed the piece of property will no longer be parkland.

“I was a bit torn at the beginning with regard to the need for affordable housing, then when I looked at the property and saw the parkland there, yes, Memorial Park is developed the most but there is parkland,” said Wright. “Technically, it’s property we can’t replace. I can’t support the motion. There are other properties, smaller, granted, but that would mean affordable housing would be fewer units in a more desirable place and closer to the community.”

Mayor Chris Pieper, who celebrated 32 years since being elected to Armstrong council on the weekend, and is a life-long resident, said everyone’s home in Armstrong was green space at one time.

“This growth has enabled our schools to grow and prosper and all of our clubs to survive,” he said. “If we cut development, we wouldn’t have clubs. We wouldn’t have amenities. The only amenity we’d have is a four-lane highway to Vernon to do our work there. This rezoning will allow the process to be sustainable as we go forward.”

Coun. Paul Britton took issue with residents fear-mongering over this and a number of issues, including spreading misinformation, he said, over this proposal and the one planned for the Royal York Golf Course.

“They make it sound like we’re removing all of the parkland and that’s definitely not the case,” said Britton. “The accusations by people against mayor, council and city staff of wrongdoings and not being transparent, or making serious errors in judgment and breaking community trust, we put a lot of time and effort into this. We’ve always tried to keep the best interests of our community in the forefront.

Britton said the city does have the infrastructure to move forward with affordable housing on the site.

The city made affordable housing its No. 1 priority – voted on unanimously by council, as Britton pointed out – for its 2021-2025 strategic plan.

READ MORE: Armstrong responds to complaints of businesses violating COVID orders



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

housing planMunicipal Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

While the Okanagan Rail Trail remained open, Coldstream parks have been closed for a month now, but could re-open mid-May. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Funds link Okanagan Rail Trail to Predator Ridge

1.3-km section of multi-use trail with a safe crossing under Highway 97

Vernon Fire Rescue Services, BC Ambulance and Vernon North Okanagan RCMP responded to a three-vehicle collision at 32nd Street and 41st Avenue Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Google Maps)
Three vehicles collide on main Vernon road

Extent of injuries unknown at this time; police, ambulance and fire on scene

Several road closures were in effect Jan. 13 due to downed trees, but meanwhile many residents are hoping Lake Country will invest in fixing damaged roads in 2021. (District of Lake Country photo)
Road safety puts Lake Country traffic plans in drive

District funds traffic calming program, and community grant

One person was extricated from a vehicle that rolled off Highway 97 Feb. 25, 2021, near Clerke Road in Coldstream around 2 p.m. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)
Two hurt in Highway 97 rollover south of Vernon

Ambulance transfers two patients with non-life-threatening injuries

The District of Lake Country and BC Transit would like the public’s feedback on how to improve the Kelowna Regional Transit System for Lake Country. (File photo)
Lake Country residents asked for transit feedback

District and BC Transit seeking ways to improve Kelowna transit system for Lake Country residents

Kelowna singer-songwriter Brent Carmichael wants to encourage the community to be more empathetic. (Brent Carmichael)
Kelowna singer-songwriter calls for compassion, empathy in new music video

Brent Carmichael’s new music video will premier on Feb. 28

The Wrong Turn Tavern in Keremeos is for sale. (Facebook)
Popular Keremeos pub up for sale

Owner Liza Sanders is selling The Wrong Turn Tavern for $800,000

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s new Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Summerland’s municipal council will proceed with a four per cent property tax increase this year, but the deadlines for property tax payment have been extended. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland councillor’s letter to media draws disappointment from colleagues

Statements about solar project did not violate ethical or conduct standards

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna’s top cop removing barriers for women in the force

Kara Triance’s journey to becoming a police chief was not without its challenges

Ella Lamourexu. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)
Kelowna’s drag story

Ella Lamourexu explains the history behind drag in Kelowna

Most Read