City of Powell River Council will be giving notice of its intention to consider issuance of a development variance permit by relaxing a number of works and services on property owned by inclusion Powell River (iPR).
At the July 2 council meeting, councillors considered an application for the variance permit for a new group home on Artaban Street in Cranberry.
According to a staff report, iPR is looking to provide a new group home to provide care for a client with challenging needs. The staff report stated the current situation on Chilco Avenue is no longer viable largely due to the proximity of the existing group home to surrounding residences.
The report stated to achieve this, iPR has applied for a subdivision application to create a duplex-sized lot, a building permit application to allow for the construction of the new group home and a development variance permit to relax a number of the works and services conditions covered by the infrastructure design and construction bylaw.
Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said the report is consistent with existing policy with respect to the official community plan (OCP) and zoning. Brewer said in terms of the OCP the property has a land use designation of urban, residential low density and the property is zoned NT Institutional.
“The NT zone is intended to accommodate a broad range of both private and public institutional uses, of which a group home is considered a permitted use,” said Brewer. “The requirement for a development variance permit is due to the request to vary service requirements in the City of Powell River infrastructure design and construction bylaw to relax a number of works and services beyond what the manager of engineering services is able to waive. In those cases, it’s required to go to council for a development variance permit.”
Brewer said iPR is looking to use an area at the back of its institutionally zoned property on Artaban Street. He said the current residence for the client is in an area that has been proven to be challenging for the community and the neighbourhood, and the Artaban location would be much better suited for the individual, for inclusion and the Wildwood neighbourhood as well.
Brewer said to achieve this, iPR has applied for a subdivision application to create a duplex-sized lot. The location or the proposed building would provide secluded living that would be best suited for the individual because it’s somewhat rural, said Brewer.
Lilla Tipton, chief executive officer of iPR, said in an interview that the important part for her organization is when it is purpose-building a home, it can be designed to meet all of the needs of the client they serve.
“We are really happy to be able to do that,” said Tipton. “It’s a beautiful location and it’s going to be a beautiful home.”
This will be the first home iPR has put on its property in the Artaban Street area. Tipton said the organization’s child development centre is there and the preschool that is operated for all children.
Tipton said iPR needed to expedite the process of building the home because there has been a timeline given by the funders in terms of completing the project.
“We needed to get it through the processes as quickly as possible because the builder has said it would take him eight months to build the project,” said Tipton. “We are starting to get down to the deadline where we have to get it completed at the end of this fiscal year, which is March 31, 2021.”
Tipton said iPR has been working for about a year to get the property ready, drawings in place, agreements with the funders, and getting the financing in place with First Credit Union.
She said the city has been very helpful and cooperative in getting this project going.
“We appreciate that,” said Tipton.
The recommendation for the variance is subject to three conditions. These include receipt of detailed design drawings of the development variance permit-approved works and services to the satisfaction of the manager of engineering services to ensure compliance to industry standards. These must be submitted prior to construction of the works to be owned and maintained by the city.
Also required is receipt of a legal survey plan to the satisfaction of the director of planning services to confirm the location of the new building relative to the proposed subdivision layout. The third requirement is resolution of concerns expressed by the fire chief in respect to site access and location of a fire hydrant. The fire chief had comments about the gravel road needing significant upgrading and location of the fire hydrant was a concern, said Brewer at the July 2 meeting.
“With those three subject conditions, that would be the recommendation from staff for council to direct staff to give notice tonight,” said Brewer. “That would give enough time to meet the minimum 10 days required to give notice and allow it to come back to the July 16 council meeting.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said the application only applied to the small parcel of land iPR wants to develop. He said that if iPR wanted to do anything more than this one lot, such as a subdivision, iPR would have to deal with what all other developers have to deal with.
Councillor George Doubt said he has been aware of this issue for some time and has met with iPR and others to try and find solutions. This is the creation of housing for a difficult to house individual and it’s a suitable place, he said.
“I’m in favour of granting these variances and holding a public hearing to make sure everyone has a chance to get their two cents in,” said Doubt.
Councillor Cindy Elliott said she was happy to see this in the docket and the project is great, but she’s a little concerned about relaxing requirements for safe walking on sidewalks and lighting.
“I’m not sure that’s a great idea when we have clients with challenges to begin with,” said Elliott. “It kind of bothers me that people have a lesser standard of walking ability to and from their home. I’m wondering why we are thinking about doing that.”
Brewer said there is still an opportunity to work with the fire chief and manager of engineering services to meet as many needs as possible for the project, the needs of iPR and the client.
Councillor Maggie Hathaway said a sidewalk could be a huge expense unless there was a further development of the property.