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Revised Ypres Street residental development gets green light from Duncan council

Project will see two five-storey buildings with 91 units
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WestUrban Developments has received a development permit from the City of Duncan to build two five-storey residential buildings on Ypres Street. (WestUrban Developments)

The City of Duncan will issue a development permit for the construction of two five storey residential buildings that will contain 91 units at 365 Ypres St.

The project by WestUrban Developments was sent back to the city’s advisory design panel for further review in September when it called for a single six-storey building containing 96 units after concerns were raised by neighbours of the proposal and some council members.

Many of those who were opposed at the time raised concerns about the building’s proposed height and size, increased traffic in the neighbourhood, the loss of mature trees on the property, and some council members took issue with the fact that the proposed project didn’t contain an affordable housing component and there were no guarantees that the units would remain rentals.

RELATED STORY: CITY OF DUNCAN WANTS FURTHER REVIEW OF PROPOSED 6-STOREY RENTAL PROJECT

Staff said at the council meeting on Feb. 21 that as WestUrban has dropped the height of the project to five storeys, the buildings now conform to the city’s zoning height restrictions and no variance is being requested.

That means, unlike the council meeting that saw the proposal being sent for further review, council had limited discretion when considering the updated application because, when no rezoning or variances are requested, council may only consider matters regarding compliance with the city’s regulatory bylaws and the applicable guidelines when making its decision.

As well, no notice was issued to area residents and landowners about the updated project proposal and there was no opportunity for written and verbal input at the meeting.

Matthew Fitzgerald, WestUrban Developments director development, said that by having two smaller buildings and reducing their height by one floor, it will significantly decrease and break-up the structure’s mass to help deal with height and size concerns.

He said an affordable housing component has also been added to the project, which will see 14 of the units having rents set at 30 per cent or less of the mean renter income for the City of Duncan.

This equates to a maximum rent of $1,150 per month for those units.

RELATED STORY: 2 LARGE APARTMENT COMPLEXES PROPOSED IN NORTH COWICHAN

“We commit to registering a covenant as a condition of the development permit approval that restricts any stratification of the buildings, and that the units remain rental units for a 10-year period,” Fitzgerald said to council.

“While we are unable to preserve the trees on this site (for a variety of reasons, including the bad health of many of them), we are offering a monetary contribution of $500 per tree to be used in public spaces throughout the city. This equates to a contribution of $10,500.”

Coun. Garry Bruce said he would prefer that the buildings’ power lines be placed underground for safety reasons, but Fitzgerald responded that this would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do and that would impact the developer’s ability to provide affordable housing.

Coun. Jenni Capps said that if it came to a choice between putting power lines underground or acquiring more much-needed affordable housing units in the city, she’s going to go with the affordable housing.

The motion to issue a development permit passed, with Bruce and Coun. Mike McKinlay opposed.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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