Exercising caution, council approves variance permit

Minding safety risks, public testimony and the setting of precedents, Vanderhoof council cautiously approves variance permit application

Town council approved a development variance permit application with conditions on Tuesday, Oct. 9, minding safety risks and the setting of precedents.

At least five homeowners attended the council meeting to lobby against the application, a Vanderhoof-based construction company’s proposal to build five homes on five compact lots at the corner of Fifth and Riley Streets in Vanderhoof.

If constructed, the five dwellings would appear crowded and unsightly in comparison with the rest of the neighborhood, which largely consists of single-family homes built on larger lots, the homeowners said.

“Does that come into your way of thinking?” Janet Smith, a homeowner who lives near the lots, asked council.

“I think all levels of thought come into our way of thinking about just how something is going to fit into the neighbourhood,” said Councillor Ken Young, then acting in the place of Mayor Gerry Thiessen.

Thiessen, a real estate agent, sold the five lots to the developer and could not be present during discussions about the agenda item.

Later in the evening, the homeowners said they weren’t lobbying against development, but rather the aesthetics and suitability of the proposed project.

“There’s nothing wrong with putting a house on an empty lot. That’s a plus for the area, but when you’re wedging them in like that, it’s not going to be a pretty sight,” said John Mainer, a homeowner who also lives near the lots.

“This isn’t a Vancouver suburb,” he said.

Discord also stems from the fact that, under grandfather clauses, the five lots owned by the developer are exempt from existing bylaws that other builders had to abide by in the past.

“All the setbacks we’ve had to comply with are being thrown out the window completely so that this developer can squeeze five houses onto five little lots,” said Smith.

According to internal documents released by council, district planner Kerry Pateman reported having mixed thoughts over what to do with the developer’s proposal, initially encouraging that the lots be consolidated into larger properties, but also backing higher density development in accordance with the infill policies of the Official Community Plan.

“It’s about using services where they already are instead of extending outwards beyond the serviced area,” said Pateman, who also stressed the importance of providing different types of housing choices in the community.

Although Pateman supported aspects of the proposal, she identified safety risks related to the lot adjacent to Riley Street and Evelyn Dickson Elementary School. Development on this lot would likely impede a driver’s awareness of oncoming traffic and pedestrians on the sidewalk, she explained.

Homeowners expressed similar concerns about safety issues.

Taking into consideration recommendations made by Pateman and testimony from the homeowners, council approved the application with restrictive covenant, allowing the three easternmost lots to be developed with the variance. Council didn’t approve the variances for the two lots immediately adjacent to Riley Street.

 

Just Posted

UPDATED: Evacuation alert issued due to Dog Creek Trail Wildfire

UPDATED: The Dog Creek wildfire has grown substantially over the past two… Continue reading

Locals converge for Cannabis Community Consultation meeting

Public feedback taken into account as DOV moves forward

Holi Festival of Colours celebrated in Vanderhoof

Last weekend, around 20 Vanderhoof residents took part in Holi, a Hindu… Continue reading

College of New Caledonia announces early childhood educator training

Vanderhoof students may benefit from the program expansion

Vulnerable B.C. communities receive funds for structural flood mitigation

Communities throughout British Columbia that have been partial to flood risks in… Continue reading

BC Games’ Athletes Corner: What’s your favourite pump up song?

Check out what’s playing in the earbuds of BC Summer Games athletes before they compete

BC Wildfire update on Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Evacuation alert issued due to Dog Creek Trail Wildfire

UPDATED: The Dog Creek wildfire has grown substantially over the past two… Continue reading

RCMP help to save goats from wildfire

The fast-approaching wildfire, sparked Thursday, forced the evacuation of five homes

VIDEO: Near drowning captured on popular B.C. river

Search and Rescue manager says the popular pastime of floating in the summer is inherently dangerous

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

UPDATED: Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

Most Read