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Mitch Collins, the Real Estate Sales Representative for the property, says more multi-family residences will be needed, as the city’s population continues to grow, and adds it makes sense as the property is surrounded by medium and high density areas. He refers to an estimated 28,000 new jobs created by the oil and gas industry over the next 20 years, as well as the proposed Site C Dam and mining projects.
“The bottom line is that lots of good people are going to be moving to Fort St. John… the question is, where are these people going to live?,” he asks. “This issue cannot obviously be remedied by this particular project alone, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
While neighbouring residents say they’re not against the development, they worry that building multi-family homes will create traffic issues, especially when there are more cars than the driveway fits. Michelle Hockney lives nearby, and she argues that many homeowners, like herself, need to rent out rooms.
“You’re looking at for every bedroom a vehicle, and traffic’s going to be an issue that you can’t understand and quality of life does go down,” she says. “There has to be some sort of happy medium to the parking requirements so everyone in the community gets to live in a beautiful neighbourhood.”
There are currently no bylaws in place that restrict the number of vehicles per residence, but there are rules as to the width of driveways, as well as how long a vehicle can be parked on a street. It’s currently proposed that 25 per cent of the lots will be single detached homes, 25 per cent duplexes, and the remaining 50 per cent to be determined by market demand, meaning as many as 75 per could be either single or multi-family homes. Andrew McLean, a resident of nearby 82 Street, suggests that single-family residences should be strategically dispersed between the multi-family ones, to aide with parking and snow removal.
“I think it should be managed so that the appearance and the logistics of it work out to be balanced so there’s not a lot of congestion and a negative affect on the real estate values in the surrounding area.”
Other residents also mentioned they’re worried that have properties like that in the neighbourhood will bring down the value of their own properties, but Collins, says he’s owned properties in the area for six years and has seen “zero” devaluation. Allen Parker, the developer from Nanaimo, B.C., says he’s committed to addressing the above concerns, and he expects the market will likely create a 60/40 balance of housing, either way.
“I can say that I’m a conscionable developer, and whatever I do here, will be to the benefit of the city and its citizens. I have no desire to do anything that would not strike the proper balance of the city.”
After hearing from residents and the proponent, City Council moved ahead with the amendment to the Official Community Plan, conditional on a traffic impact assessment for the subdivision being completed, and design guidelines being placed as a covenant on each of the lots. The traffic assessment is expected in approximately three weeks, and should the conditions be met, the final decision can be expected by October.
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