Unlike similar projects, a proposal to tear down a home on Churchill Avenue and replace it with two front and back duplexes only drew a few opponents to a public hearing on Feb. 1.
Much of the concern raised revolved around parking and congestion, especially in light of a new Penticton policy that will eventually see pay parking introduced along Lakeshore Drive.
“I have been in situations in the summer, without the pay parking on Lakeshore, where Churchill is a zoo,” said Robert Duncan. “You cannot move.”
Freestyle Developments applied for re-zoning and development variance permits for a lot at 451 Churchill Ave., wanting to subdivide it into two lots.
“We feel that our development supports affordable housing by putting four units on that lot,” said Rob Linder, one of the developers. Each unit should sell for about $400,000, according to Linder.
It reduces the price per unit and makes that area accessible to more families.”
Building a duplex on the lot, which is allowed without the need for zoning changes, would mean each unit would probably sell for $800,000 and contain a secondary suite to help with mortgages.
Sandra Smith, who lives nearby with her husband Paddy, said she felt the concerns of the neighbourhood weren’t being heard.
“It is not that people don’t want change,” she said. They would like to see some planning in the change that suits everybody, not just the dollar.
Smith also said that creating two lots from the one was taking densification too far.
“If you continue to develop every square foot of every lot, there will be no trees left.”
Similar developments in the area — at 433 and 707-717 Churchill Ave. — were initially opposed by neighbours.
Paddy Smith penned a letter to city council stating that any lack of objection to the current project should not be taken as community support.
“The community had previously made exhaustive efforts to object to such developments of fourplexes on small family lots,” wrote Smith. “These extensive efforts produced not an iota of change to either plan under two different councils.”
Bruce Schoenne, who lives nearby on Lakeshore Drive and was responsible for one of the prior fourplex projects, also wrote a letter giving his support for the new fourplex.
“I am of the opinion that it would be a great addition to the neighbourhood and this community,” wrote Schoenne. “This community needs more good design and densification.”
Coun. Judy Sentes agreed that the increasing congestion on Churchill Avenue needed to be addressed, but that densification was necessary.
“We need to densify. We are limited in our opportunities of growth, yet that is what we want,” said Sentes, adding the city also needs to be aware of the effects of densification on neighbourhoods.
Council voted unanimously to give second and third readings to the variances needed for subdivision.