Close vote nixes Aberdeen project
They railed against the loss of views and privacy, the increased traffic and the renters.
But, in the end it was a history of spongey lawns and basement flooding that narrowly convinced Kamloops city council to reject a rezoning application for a strata project in Aberdeen.
Many of the 100-strong crowd had headed home by the time council reached its decision late Tuesday (May 15) evening — many walking out when three councillors came out in favour of rezoning the 2.2-hectare lot for multi-family use.
Councillors Tina Lange, Nancy Bepple and Arjun Singh said the Van Horne Drive development provided necessary density in a neighbourhood made up of single-family homes.
The 64-unit project would have included a mix of duplexes, triplexes and a four-storey apartment building on a lot zoned for church use.
“We’re here today to decide on land use,” said Lange.
“Is this a good piece of land for this type of development. And it is. Yes.”
It was an argument those already living in lower Aberdeen had spent hours trying to rebuff.
Gavin Lawrence, whose Fleming Place home is directly below the proposed development, said he was concerned about a loss of privacy.
Residents in the duplexes would be able to look down into his backyard, he said.
“I am not prepared for people to be looking directly into my backyard and my bedroom window,” he said, adding a development that dense would diminish the character of the neighbourhood and cast shadows over his property for much of the year.
He suggested developers eliminate the apartment building and push other units back toward Aberdeen elementary — a thought echoed many times by other residents.
Peter Lee said he purchased his Farrington Court home because the Van Horne lot was not zoned for multi-family use.
“We said no way, we don’t want that in our backyard,” he said, worrying about area property values.
Others, like Hal Peterson, said they would be willing to see the lot developed for single-family homes.
Another group of neighbours suggested moving a planned public walkway to the north face of the lot to provide a greater buffer between the strata and their houses and a less-disruptive view for properties below the lot.
Glenda Carlson worried about increased traffic from the development in an area she said is already dangerous for children walking to school.
Gordon Kerfoot was one of many presenters to raise concerns about the project’s effect on slope stability in an area that already grapples with water problems.
Project developers have designed a system of liners and cisterns to deal with excess water, but Kerfoot said the system isn’t proven and worried if it would be maintained and what would happen if it failed.
Many in the area reported pools of water in their backyards, spongey lawns, frost heaves or water damage in their basements, and were concerned the existing problems would be exacerbated by the new development.
This argument appeared to resonate most with council.
“If I had water in my yard and my neighbours did, too, and the neighbours beside them, I’d be very worried,” said Pat Wallace, who noted she almost never votes against rezoning applications for developments.
“That’s been my issue and really my only issue from the beginning.”
Mayor Peter Milobar said he also had concerns about leaving a complex drainage system under the strata’s control, even if a series of maintenance and reporting restrictions were placed on the property.
“If we have to layer restrictions on land use to the point where we’re acknowledging we may have to go in and fix things, that’s a concern for me,” he said.
Marg Spina and Nelly Dever also cited water-related concerns, though Dever said she also thought the development could have been more sensitive to the existing neighbourhood.
The rezoning failed by a vote of five to four, with Ken Christian, Bepple, Singh and Lange voting in favour and Milobar, Dever, Spina, Wallace and Donovan Cavers voting against.