A new apartment building expected to be built behind the movie theatre in Merecroft Village could help with the housing shortage, says Mayor Andy Adams.
“We heard earlier tonight the shortage of rental accommodations and affordable housing and I think this fills a void,” Adams said, alluding to a presentation at the July 10 council meeting concerning the lack of affordable housing which is leaving new groups of people homeless.
The proposed development is a four-storey, 70 unit multi-family residential building at 525 South Dogwood Street, just south of Merecroft Village, and is expected to include a pea gravel dog run and garden plots for residents. It’s phase one of a three-phase development by Seymour Pacific/Broadstreet Properties which will eventually add even more housing to the site, barring approval of a future subdivision application to the city.
The property is 7.87 acres (3.19 hectares) in size, is currently vacant and was cleared last year to make way for future development.
But Coun. Larry Samson, upon seeing the development proposal at the July 10 council meeting, said he’s concerned the volume of traffic trying to get in and out of the complex will create traffic jams along Dogwood Street.
“If we have 70 units here, you’re looking at roughly 100 vehicles and now we’re going to develop parcel two and parcel three which is going to triple the number. We could have potentially 300 vehicles trying to get off and on Dogwood Street through an access lane,” Samson said. “Three hundred cars trying to cross a four-lane street on Dogwood Street. What is that going to do to traffic?”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield echoed Samson’s concerns.
“It is Dogwood Street. We put a lot of money into changing traffic patterns to make it safer,” Cornfield said, referring to the new traffic lights installed more than seven years ago to provide advance left-turn arrows.
Marianne Wade, the city’s development services manager, said because the applicant wants to subdivide the property, that process has triggered a Traffic Impact Study which is currently underway. But, she explained, issues related to traffic are dealt with at the subdivision application stage, not within the development permit which was all council was considering at last week’s council meeting.
“Engineering concerns are dealt with at the subdivision process,” Wade said. “Depending on what the Traffic Impact Study is, we’ll see what the requirements are.”
Coun. Michele Babchuk added that it’s also possible the traffic picture won’t look as bad as Samson’s imagining, noting the complex will be on a major transit route and it’s possible not every resident will have a vehicle.
“I’m quite excited,” Babchuk said about the development. “It’s right next to a shopping centre area; we have our recreation centre (Robron Park) right behind.”
In the end, council approved the development permit, with the exception of Samson who was opposed.
The development permit covers the form and character of the building which is designed to integrate into the neighbourhood.
“The applicant has designed the proposed development to be consistent with the surrounding residential area character,” said Cameron Salisbury, the city’s planner. “The building is proposed to be cladded with cement board, metal, wood plank, timber and stone accents.”
The landscaping around the building is expected to include a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses with landscaping screening the parking areas from Dogwood.