Reduced setback for proposed development problematic

A proposed development in Williams Lake did not receive a variance permit to erect buildings within two metres from the property line.

A proposed development of 34 homes near Eagle Crescent in Williams Lake did not receive a variance permit for buildings to be erected to within two metres from the property line.

Westridge Ventures Ltd. had asked the city to vary its zoning to allow for setback reductions from 5.5 metres to 2 metres and 6.1 metres to 2 metres for principal buildings.

In a four-to-three vote against, council turned down the development variance permit application at its regular meeting Tuesday.

At the meeting, council heard from two residents and the developer about the application.

Elke Reiner lives nearby on Mandarino Place and said she was not against development, but would prefer to see the development on a through road, not a crescent.

“Council must consider a second exit, creating a proper traffic pattern, not a cul-de-sac pattern,” Reiner said. “At the same time it would revitalize the downtown core.”

She explained how she exits Westridge Drive, heads down Highway 20 into the city core.

“If we would have a bridge coming across to Oliver Street, I could go both ways,” she said.

Retired city building inspector and architect Terry Gosling spoke against the proposed layout of the development and suggested a reconfiguration that would would not require a setback adjustment.

“This is not a level piece of land and that’s why the variance application is being made,” Gosling said, adding he’s not comfortable with the application in its present form.

He said the adjusted setback could create a “tudor-like” town where people shake hands from the upper floor windows.

Existing variations of the land for the proposed development are also a problem, Gosling added.

“It drops off steeply to the back of the properties that are currently on Westridge Drive. I can understand the people who live in those houses who have always been apprehensive about this piece of property.”

Gosling reminded council the setback is not for a few lots, but for the whole development.

“I think it’s going to look terrible. Regardless of what the city is going to do about branding, to have something like that as a potential residential development is totally wrong,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to see us being branded as the city that produces instant slums.”

Gosling said Foster Way was the first recipient of city council’s permission of reduced setbacks in 2003 from 25 feet down to 18 feet.

“Although that is the minimum and there is flexibility to increase the setback, it’s interesting to note that the two lots that were recently developed, one on Westridge and the other on Ridgeview Place, each went for the minimum lot line setback.

Gosling handed out an overlay showing how the developer could maintain the 6.1 metre setback on either side of the street without affecting any properties on Westridge Drive.

“I’m suggesting the road be moved on the left 4.1 metres, leaving the houses on the right as they are. They wouldn’t change their location. The lots on the left would be slightly narrower, but the houses could be pushed back to 6.1 metres.”

It could work, Gosling said, adding there could be other solutions.

“I don’t like being negative, but would rather come up with something that would answer the issues for us.

There are some very sound reasons why adequate setbacks have been established and should be enforced,” he added.

Developer Luigi Mandarino said the design was created by a professional engineer.

“This is the best possible choice for developing the property. We’ve been working on this for about three or four years and with the new geotechnical report conducted for the city it’s becoming more difficult to construct in Williams Lake,” Mandarino said.

“We are on a slope in a valley, not on the flat land where we can move wherever we want.”

People he’d connected with on Westridge Drive and Eagle Crescent are 100 per cent in favour of supporting the variance permit, Mandarino added.

“We didn’t request the variance just for the fun of it, but spent lots of hours trying to figure out how it could work. I don’t see any other way of doing it.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

International Women’s Day is March 8. (
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

Businesses in Williams Lake are invited to participate in a new sticker program that will help make their venues more accessible. (Williams Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee image)
‘Come On In’: New program aims to make Williams Lake businesses more accessible

Williams Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) is leading the project

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Amarjit Khakh of Williams Lake. (Photo submitted)

Kindness and giving, key to full life

Sierra William (left) with her grandmother Eileen William. (Roger William photo)

Xeni Gwet’in woman finds strength in tradition

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Most Read