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Neighbourhood up in arms over duplex application

Residents in the Brind’Amour Road neighbourhood are protesting re-zoning in the area and some now feel they were misled when they purchased their properties.

Local developer Ted Maxwell wants to re-zone nine lots on Strathcona Way, which is adjacent to Jubilee Parkway, from a single family dwelling to single family housing with a secondary suite. He wants to rezone two other existing lots to allow duplex properties. Property owners in the area say they’re upset by Maxwell’s re-zoning applications because they purchased their homes with the understanding the neighbourhood would only have single family units.

“I feel we researched the zoning of the lot we purchased over a year ago. We built our retirement home with the concept of buying and retiring in an R-1 (single-family) subdivision,” said Susan Vollman in a letter to the city. “My understanding of the re-zoning process is that a change to re-zone lots can be applied for at any time by the developer. Therefore, it is misleading to the buyer at the time of purchase what the lot is really zoned as. Buyer aware – if we had been aware of the possibility of re-zoning we would have not bought the lot.”

Ian Buck, the city’s land use supervisor, said that while there are private developer schemes that restrict the use of lots to only single-family, there is an “escape clause” that can be used to amend them and Maxwell is within his rights to alter his plans and re-zone the lots. Buck told council at a public hearing Tuesday night city staff is in favour of the re-zoning because it promotes sustainable neighbourhoods and affordable housing. But neighbours seem to agree that it will increase traffic and noise in the area and too many cars will end up parking on the side of the street.

“The biggest concern is parking,” said resident Gary Steffens. “Strathcona Way is only 30 feet wide and Tyee Drive is just 23 feet wide.”

Paul and Mary Oostenbroek said in a letter to the city they also purchased in the area because of its R-1 zoning and the quiet setting. The couple’s home is located in front of one of the lots Maxwell plans to re-zone to allow a duplex and they worry a duplex would take away their privacy.

Maxwell said he appreciates the concerns of his neighbours and wishes he didn’t have to re-zone but the economy has left him in a tough financial situation and he doesn’t have any other choice but to re-zone in order to market the lots.

“I am motivated by economics. We have struggled to survive the last three years, I am not a big developer,” said Maxwell. “This is definitely an economically-motivated circumstance – I have not grown horns, I do not eat small children; I’m the same person and I’m attempting to survive and maintain the integrity of the subdivision.”

In order for Maxwell to re-zone, council must still adopt an amendment to the current zoning bylaw for Strathcona Way.

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