Site of proposed affordable housing development.

Mobiles proposed for Parksville housing project

Sicamous developer seeking municipal approval to allow mobile homes in stagnant affordable housing development.

A Sicamous developer is seeking municipal approval to allow mobile homes in a stagnant affordable housing development.

District of Sicamous council has given first reading to a zoning amendment bylaw related to a 7.5 hectare lot at 711-727 Parksville Street, where applicant and developer Darrell Trouton resides.

The purpose of the amendment is to change the permitted uses within the existing R1A, urban single family development residential zone, to include CSA-approved Z240 standard mobile homes – in addition to single family and manufactured homes.

“This would allow a combination of residential units to be built on the property, most of which are allowed under our current bylaw, and under case law. The amendment here would allow for the use of mobile homes on those stratified lots in the future,” explained community planner Mike Marrs at the May 25 regular council meeting.

Marrs noted the R1A zone was created to provide smaller lots for affordable housing. This was part of the conditional exclusion the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) agreed to in 2009 in order to allow the lot out of the Agricultural Land Reserve. To meet the ALC’s conditions, the proposed residential development was redesigned with a new plan for 102 residential lots plus a site for a 45-unit apartment complex.

With approval of first reading, Marrs said staff would send the latest lot plans to government agencies, including the ALC, for referral. He said once the referrals are back, staff can proceed with a report that would address any concerns councillors might have. Council could then give the amendment second reading and allow it to go to a public hearing.

“We have a number of developments in this community that have gone stagnant,” commented Coun. Gord Bushell. “And between the previous downturn in the economy back in 2008, and the influx of condominiums and development back in 2006/07, a lot of restrictions were put on developers and this developer… Basically, we take it back to the public – there’s going to be a public hearing – and try to re-invent this development and get some development going on in this community.”

Coun. Jeff Mallmes expressed concern over the addition of mobiles, noting he’d like to see something in place to prevent the lot from becoming an eyesore.

Marrs said the district has no control over the age of the mobile in the R1A lot – this could be addressed by a covenant on the title.

“Usually the property or developer would have housing standards and put an age restriction on the mobile home…, that can be done,” said Marrs, adding the district could consider a bylaw to regulate maintenance and appearance of the units.

Town planner Evan Parliament later elaborated on the amendment, stating the proposed “hybrid solution” would allow the developer to proceed in accordance with the agreed upon conditions for affordable housing.

“We… also recognize there has to be some conditions to maintain the integrity of an R1A zone…,” said Parliament. “That’s why you have first reading tonight. You have to go to the referrals, but we also want an opportunity to sit down with the owner and our legal team to bring in some tools to insure the integrity of the R1 is maintained, even though we’re adding this permitted use – so the form and character, the feel of the subdivision meets the integrity of an R1A.”

Mayor Terry Rysz noted how Sicamous, in the last 15 years, has not been able to produce affordable, obtainable housing.

“So my respect to this is, this particular recommendation is something that we really have to have a hard look at,” said Rysz.

Council voted in favour of first reading with Coun. Janna Simons opposed.