A new affordable 39-unit apartment building for Williams Lake received city council’s endorsement Tuesday, although a second request by the developer to be able to provide half the parking spaces required did cause concern and was deferred.
In its application, Craven/Huston/Powers Architects is asking that the requirement for 78 spaces be reduced to 31 spaces for the building which will be erected at 211 and 253 First Avenue North, across from the bowling alley.
“In other proposals where we have relaxed the parking bylaw, there have always been more cars than what people anticipated,” Mayor Walt Cobb said as he called for the deferral so council can talk to the applicant about other options. “I have already had calls from businesses thinking that there isn’t enough parking down there now.”
Cobb said he does not think the building needs the full 78 parking spaces, but thinks it will need more than 31.
Williams Lake Association of Community Living executive director Ian McLaughlin said his association in partnership on the proposal with the architectural firm.
“We had been trying to sell this lot since 1998 and never had a bid on it or any interest in it,” McLaughlin told the Tribune, noting the association owned one of the lots and is purchasing the other lot from Cariboo Road Services. “Then when B.C. Housing came out with a call for housing for people with low to moderate housing and we had a lot to contribute so we applied and had conditional acceptance.”
That was a few years ago, and finally now the association is close to receiving final approval for the project.
“Hopefully in the spring we can get started on it,” he added.
The number of parking spaces being proposed is an issue, he agreed.
“The architects are asking for a pretty good-sized reduction, so I can understand why Walt Cobb had some issues with it. But we will work through it. I certainly had the impression from council that they are not going to stall the thing if we can’t do it, but they are going to work with us to come up with some more spaces.”
McLaughlin said there will be 10 units for Canadian Mental Health Association and Community Living clients that won’t drive for sure and the subsidized units will rent for $375 a month to low income people.
“We are going on the assumption that a number of these people aren’t going to be driving or definitely aren’t going to have two vehicles. That’s the rationale for the reduced parking spaces.”
He also said the CMHA and Community Living clients living in the apartment building will be capable of fitting in.
“We want a mix of our clients and the general public, we don’t want to segregate people. They would be folks that need very little supervision.”
Coun. Scott Nelson said the plan for the new building is beautiful and the location is a key one.
“It’s four-storey, it’s subsidized. Three years ago council purchased property at Proctor for parking and it is within walking distance of the new facility,” Nelson said. “I concur that we should go back and negotiate more parking, but this is a critical project for our community. It is something we’ve only dreamed about for the last 20 years.”