Project’s neighbours concerned about potential for rentals

Neighbours raised concerns about renters and increased traffic during a public hearing for a proposed 20-unit development in Ladysmith.

osed development of 20 single-family homes on Fourth Avenue Extension are worried about the potential for increased traffic and parking issues and the potential for renters and absentee homeowners.

The owners of 320 Fourth Avenue Extension have submitted a rezoning application to the Town of Ladysmith to develop 20 single-family homes on the property as part of a strata development.

There is currently one home on the property, which is about three acres and backs onto the Holland Creek Trail.

During a public hearing about the proposal June 4, some speakers expressed concerns about water retention and stormwater management, the nearby trees on Holland Creek Trail and whether enough parking is being provided, but most concerns seemed to be around the nature of the strata development and how much input the town has into the strata regulations.

Darcy Dean, who lives on Fourth Avenue Extension, wondered if it would be possible to add a covenant that would limit the percentage of units that were rentals.

Planning technician Lisa Brinkman said the town generally has no say in  what strata rules are.

Land-use consultant Maureen Pilcher told the packed council chambers that they are hoping to sell the homes for $250,000 to $350,000.

Dean noted that a $250,000-home could easily be rented out.

“A higher price point suggests more of the units will be owner-occupied,” he said.

Designer Will Melville assured Dean that they expect the homes to be owner-occupied.

“We’re really positioning ourselves between a modest single-family house on a lot and a condo,” he said.

Dean worries about the project becoming rental housing, which would lead to increased traffic, parking all over his yard, an increase in crime and a loss of safety.

“The only question that’s never been addressed for me personally, and I’ve brought it up at every opportunity, is how they intend to control the increase in mobility, the potential for the entire complex to go rental, the increase in traffic in our neighbourhood, the increase in crime in our neighbourhood and the decline in property values,” he said. “If the application passes the way it stands right now, there will be absolutely no way to safeguard that because the strata council will decide on the answers. Those covenants have to be built in prior to this application being passed, or we have to leave all of our chances to a group of people we have absolutely no input with. You are the only people we do have input with.”

Guy Lynn, who lives on nearby Hartley Place, told council he feels strongly that the property should remain as single-family zoning.

“We feel we are being used as a test area for new zoning bylaw that the Town of Ladysmith wants to create,” he said. “We feel this project will reduce the value of our home and the surrounding homes.”

Following the public meeting, council unanimously approved the zoning amendment in principle, subject to a number of land-use conditions related to protecting vegetation and trees, homes using non-fossil fuel heat sources as their primary heating and dedicating money and land containing a portion of the Holland Creek Trail to the town.

Coun. Gord Horth felt this project was a thoughtful development, and he thought  owner Bruce Hansen and his team have taken neighbours’ concerns into consideration.

“Change is difficult, but it’s thoughtful change,” he said.

As far as the concern about rentals goes, Coun. Duck Paterson couldn’t see people investing that much money into rentals.

“If you look at Fourth Avenue Extension, there are two duplexes being rented, and they’re well-kept,” he said. “I don’t think the parking issue should be a big one either. I think it will be good for the whole community and no detriment to the area.”