The property at 302 Birch Street is set to become a four-storey, 51-unit apartment complex containing ‘micro-suites’ and bachelor/studio apartments, which council says will add to the diversity of the rental market, despite many neighbours speaking out in opposition to the increase in density. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River gets 51 more apartments despite neighbours’ objection

‘Micro-apartments’ and bachelor/studio suites will ‘add diversity’ to rental stock, council says

Despite many neighbours speaking in opposition to the proposal, the rezoning application to allow a new 51-unit apartment complex for Birch Street near the hospital was approved by Campbell River City Council this week.

Because the proposed building will essentially be a typical four-storey apartment complex – which is allowed under the current zoning – but instead made up of mainly micro-suites, which are around 300 square feet in size, studio and bachelor suites, as well as some 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, many more units can fit in the same amount of space, so the Crown Pacific needed a zoning amendment to allow for the increased density, as it was previously zoned to allow for about 20.

Council was initially enthusiastic about the proposal when it was given first and second reading and sent to a public hearing, as the community is in desperate need of more rental housing and this approach could be part of the solution.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield’s concern was the number of parking stalls being proposed, but staff said they reduced the required number because the expectation is that the micro-units and bachelor suites would likely be occupied by single working professionals – many of whom would likely work at the hospital nearby – so having 62 parking spots for the 51 units seemed reasonable.

“I like the proposal and I like that it’s creating some diversity in the marketplace,” said Coun. Colleen Evans, whose initial concerns echoed Cornfield’s regarding parking.

Coun. Michele Babchuk agreed that the unique development “would certainly help us with some of our affordable housing pieces, except that it is going to be at market rates. What I would hate to see happen is people on the lower end of our socio-economic scale accessing these and putting a family of four, because there is no other option, into a 500 square foot micro apartment.”

RELATED: 28 townhouses on the way to 525 Dogwood

Mayor Andy Adams said that he would reserve judgment until after the public hearing, “but I will say that we’ve heard for a number of years, housing affordability and affordable housing (needs to be a priority), and I’m very pleased to see a proposal come forward that provides some options for people to consider.”

But at the public hearing, many neighbours spoke to already dangerous traffic situations in the area, a loss of privacy and groundwater problems that they felt would intensify should the development go ahead.

Gordon McMann, who has lived on McCarthy Street – directly to the east of the proposed development – since 1973, says the apartments will look right into his backyard.

“We give up a certain amount of privacy when we buy a home, because you have neighbours on both sides, front and back, but when you’ve got 25 or 26 of them who can look out their window and onto your deck … I don’t know that we’re going to want to sit out there,” McMann told council.

He’s also concerned about the complex lowering the property values in the neighbourhood.

“I can’t imagine anybody coming into our house (looking to purchase it), looking up there, seeing all those windows and being excited about it,” he said. “And my neighbours are going to be affected just as much as me – the neighbours on Birch probably more than me.”

McMann and other concerned neighbours also spoke to groundwater concerns in the area that could cause problems should the development go ahead, but council was assured by both staff and the proponent that geotechnical experts would be addressing that issue during the development phase.

And some said that further increased density would inevitably cause accidents, and were especially concerned about the steady stream of school kids in the area, as well as those walking to and from a nearby daycare facility.

“The traffic on Birch Street between second and fourth has become a major speedway in the last couple of years,” said Mary Jensen, who has lived on Birch Street since 1965, “and there are already 100-plus units between second and third that drive out onto Birch on a daily basis.”

In the end, council decided that because the majority of the neighbours’ concerns could be mitigated through the design and development phases of the construction or would be no different should a four-storey apartment be built under its current zoning restriction without being allowed increased density, it should go ahead.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Former Campbell Riverite reaches Everest summit

Clayton Matthews’ team got to the top of the world earlier this week

Campbell River RCMP arrest violent offender

Police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Strathcona Regional District fiscal health gradually improving, staff say

Tax and service revenue was up for the SRD in 2018, while grant money was down

VIDEO: Campbell River highschool event marks Canadian human rights milestone

50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality

Blaney plan helps seniors late with taxes

Simple solution to important issue: North Island-Powell River MP

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Most Read