Vernon city council moved forward a proposal by CMHA to build 30 more affordable housing units at its Albert Place location on 25 Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Limited parking drives concerns for North Okanagan housing project

Public hearing scheduled for CMHA low-income expansion project proposal

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s proposed housing units slated for Vernon are on the docket for a Nov. 12 public hearing with special attention given to parking requirements.

City of Vernon councillors are preparing to consider CMHA’s application to rezone the 3610 25th Avenue property from row housing residential to low-rise apartment residential to allow for the development of 30 stacked-row house units.

Currently, Albert Place serves as a low-income facility and includes 17 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit, but CMHA is looking to expand the number of units to include eight bachelor units, seven one-bedroom units, eight three-bedroom units and seven four-bedroom units.

The expansion is fully funded through BC Housing and its Community Housing Fund program and requires a mix of renters and incomes. Affordable Market Housing for those earning a moderate income would make up 30 per cent of the mix while 20 per cent is Deep Subsidy and 50 per cent is Rent Geared to Income.

READ MORE: Proposal for 30 affordable housing units in Vernon moves ahead

But, with more units comes more required parking spaces. Except this project would get fewer spaces than usual. The normal requirement for a 48-unit complex is 77 parking spaces, but the current proposal calls for just 32.

CMHA proposed 24 tenant stalls, seven visitor stalls, one car share stall, eight secured and covered scooter stalls plus on-street parking on 24th Avenue to serve the 48-unit social housing units. According to the report, that “should provide adequate parking” for the complex.

The rationale presented to council on Oct. 15 during a regular meeting was fewer parking spaces were needed due to the lower number of vehicles owned by affordable-housing tenants.

Sidewalks, transit and the Okanagan Landing multi-use path nearby are also being considered by CMHA as ways to alleviate parking demands, as reliance on vehicles is lessened by the presence of these amenities.

“Our aim is to foster pedestrian and cycle-friendly lifestyles within this department,” said Lake Monster Studio, the architecture firm behind the project.

Coun. Scott Anderson said he wasn’t satisfied with the proposal’s parking study.

“I’ve got some real problems with it,” he said.

Chief among them was the possibility that CMHA might leave the site in the future and the zoning would remain the same, leaving inadequate parking for the next owner.

Vernonites who may be affected by the proposed development can voice their concerns at the public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, in the Council Chambers.

— with files from Brendan Shykora

READ MORE: North Okanagan district wins gold for communication

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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