Rental housing argument wins over Penticton council

Need for rental housing was the major argument in a six to one in favour vote by Penticton city council.

Artists concept of the proposed apartment buildings for a property at 175 Kinney Ave. Below; the property as it currently sits.

Artists concept of the proposed apartment buildings for a property at 175 Kinney Ave. Below; the property as it currently sits.

Council spent almost three hours Tuesday evening listening to neighbourhood concerns over a proposal to develop 175 Kinney Ave.

The majority of the speakers at the public hearing were in opposition, but when council reconvened Wednesday evening, the vote was six to one in favour of the rezoning for the development, with a need for rental housing being the major argument.

Read more: Public hearing on Kinney Avenue

Broadstreet Properties, which already has a project underway on Duncan Avenue, is looking to build two six-storey apartment blocks on the property, for a total of 119 new rental units. Bordered by Cherry Lane Towers, Parkway Elementary and Lions Park, the 2.25-acre property is within the Cherry Lane Urban Village outlined in the Official Community Plan, which identifies the area surrounding the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre for future higher density development.

Adam Cooper, development manager for Broadstreet, reminded council that Penticton is facing a critical rental housing shortage and the number of new units being created isn’t keeping pace with demand.

Lack of affordable rental housing, he said, negatively affects Penticton’s ability to attract new residents, businesses and skilled workers.

“We welcome families, students, seniors and, as always, pets in our buildings. We consider our communities to be housing for all,” said Cooper. “We are not constructing luxury condos that price people out of the market.”

The opposition arguments mirrored those heard in 2014, when a 90-unit condominium was proposed. Increased traffic, parking, loss of view and property value were discussed in both cases, as was the area’s historical OCP designation as future parkland.

Read more: Kinney Avenue turns into heated debate

The city never managed to meet the purchase price set and at the owners’ request, removed the parks designation in 2014. Still, many of those opposed felt they were guaranteed parkland views when they purchased.

“What we look at now is green space, park, trees, animals, an old house and a dog named Charlie,” said Miles Green, president of the strata council at Cherry Lane Towers.

Green also said that having a rental development next door could also affect their property values.

“Town planners or anybody that is in municipal government, nevermind real estate, will tell you don’t always produce the kind of results, real estate-wise, for homeowners or condominium owners that is on the positive side.”

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, who was the lone vote against the rezoning was disappointed to hear the negative stereotypes of renters as second-class citizens, having a negative effect on the neighbourhood.

Coun. Max Picton was the strongest supporter of giving Broadstreet the rezoning needed for the project, delivering an impassioned speech on the need for housing.

“I’ve lost many of my peers in this community due to affordable housing not being available. Families need places to live in this community. It disappoints me to see the community come out to rally against things such as this or child care facilities in our community,” said Picton, saying Kinney Avenue is an ideal place for such a development, surrounded by amenities like the school, transit routes and the mall.

“I can understand the loss of a view being something that can upset someone, but I am losing friends, people I’ve grown up with my entire life, because they can’t find places to live in this community.

“This is for the people in my generation who are struggling … offering them a chance to remain here, and grow and prosper.”

The rezoning passed, with the caveat that Broadstreet conduct a traffic study and sign an agreement the project will remain rental housing for at least 10 years.

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