Following a marathon public hearing witnessed by a standing-room-only crowd, those in favour of a 60-unit mobile home park in Canoe went home disappointed.
The hearing in Salmon Arm council chambers Monday, March 11 stretched from 7 p.m. to nearly 11. In the end, it was a close vote, with four members of council against the rezoning that would have allowed Kerry Tarnow’s development to proceed, and three members in favour.
Voting against were Couns. Louise Wallace Richmond, Sylvia Lindgren, Debbie Cannon and Chad Eliason. In favour of the rezoning were Couns. Tim Lavery and Kevin Flynn, as well as Mayor Alan Harrison.
To simplify lengthy deliberations, the main reason four councillors voted against the rezoning was density – the wish for a condo or multi-family development that would meet the existing R4, medium density residential zoning. The rezoning would have changed the two-lot, 3.5 hectare (8.8 acre) property fronting on Canoe Beach Drive to R6, mobile home park zoning. The maximum density supported by the official community plan for the 3.5 hectares is 140 units, while the maximum density permitted by the R6 zone is 60 units.
The main reason the three council members voted in favour was the need for affordable housing, stating the development would provide options for some of the many people who are seeking housing.
Resident Kristal Burgess, who said she was speaking on behalf of more than 220 Canoe residents, stated density was key. Higher density would expand the tax base, which could fund infrastructure. A broader variety of housing is needed, she added, and R4 would be best.
Other arguments from speakers opposed included potential financial instability associated with mobile home purchases, the disadvantages of not owning the land and the fear the development would become a home for ‘snowbirds.’
Proponent Kerry Tarnow showed photos of the nine people or families who have contacted him already, wanting to purchase homes. He noted he was no longer requesting a variance for a portion of Canoe Beach Drive and would upgrade the full length.
Speakers in favour, like Steve Fabro, said the development would provide an affordable housing option, particularly for young adults. Richard Smith noted that an R4 development was tried in the early 2000s and was not financially viable. He said he has contacted developers and strongly doubts another plan would be forthcoming in the near future.
Coun. Debbie Cannon said it was a tough hearing having grown up in Canoe and knowing people on both sides. She sees the flat piece of land desirable and thinks R4 is the right zone. She also doesn’t think the development is truly affordable housing.
Mayor Alan Harrison spoke in favour, noting the plan provides an option for people seeking housing. He also pointed to costs the developer is providing such as $900,000 for offsite works, $1 million for onsite and $570,000 for development cost charges.
“In order to pay for that, a developer has to come up with a plan for costs. That’s why there’s not an R1 or R4 development for that property.”
Coun. Kevin Flynn spoke last, urging councillors who voiced opposition to consider the civic election and how affordable housing was the top issue.