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Keeping Cooke Avenue affordable: what it means to Rosslanders
The Cooke Avenue development needs to be a community-relevant development, one Rosslander implored council recently, preparing or the next phase of the zoning amendment.
In speaking during the public portion of the Nov. 12 meeting, one lady commended council for trying to make the development proposed for the former Cooke School site more affordable.
She said affordable housing in Rossland was hard to come by, considering the median home cost was $279,000 (in 2008), and not many young people looking to buy and settle in the city could afford that cost.
The term affordable housing is defined as 30 per cent of gross income going to housing, and includes the cost of mortgage interest, principal and property tax.
And with a 10 per cent down payment, and a five per cent interest rate, a median-priced home in the city would need a gross income of approximately $70,000 to purchase it.
But if someone is working a minimum wage, 40-hour per week job, their gross income is only $21,000, the lady noted, putting them in the mortgage affordability range of $95,000 or less.
“So that’s telling you that housing that is priced over the median is not affordable. And when a developer is talking about a cost of $200,000 to $300,000, it really has to be thought about is who is that affordable for? And what else is making it attainable?” she said to council.
She urged council to ask for clarity from the developer—Rossland Builder—on what the actual housing would be like, how much it would be finished and what amenities it would contain.
“It’s good that we have builders that want to build housing,” she noted. “The question is how can they make it useful, attainable and relevant for people who want to purchase homes in Rossland, and that the housing is more than just a cheap building?”
She said the wish list council described at the same meeting—which will likely be debated on Jan. 9 in council chambers—was appropriate in helping define what is not just affordable housing but attainable, live-able housing.
The development is slated for two large lots to allow mixed residential on what is public institutional, building a proposed 20 townhouse units in the form of six, multi-unit homes facing Thompson Avenue and Cooke Avenue.
Each unit will include three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a single or double car garage. The total living space will be approximately 2,000 square feet at $150 per square foot, including land cost.
A preliminary review of servicing requirements for the site—a full city block—has been conducted. The former Cooke Avenue school site now zoned public institutional and needs a zoning amendment to allow mixed residential.
A few points to consider
At the committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 4 council made some recommendations for the zoning bylaw amendment for the former Cooke Avenue school site.
Council agreed it would be discussing the following points:
• That density be reduced to 16 equivalent units from 20 equivalent units. City staff is expected to provide a report to council on ways to cap the total number of dwelling units.
• City staff are expected to work with the developer to come up with a lot grading plan.
• The 12-metre height limitation be based upon the lowest natural grade on the lot plan. The 12-m. height restriction could be kept and the city change the definition of height specifically for the zone so that height meant the vertical distance from the lowest natural grade, adjacent to an exterior wall of the building to the highest point of the roof.
• That a restrictive covenant requiring the owner to not use any part of their land as a driveway or other means of vehicular access to Thompson Avenue, Cliff Street and Monita Street. If passed, it will form part of the zoning bylaw amendment resolution.
• Staff are to create design development guidelines for the Cooke Avenue site that would be completed prior to the issuing of building permits.
City staff will bring forward an Official Community Plan amendment for a new development permit area with appropriate guidelines specific to the Cooke Avenue site.
• The development will include four affordable units (no more than 50 square metres) in the parcel as a whole as a density bonus. If passed, it will form part of the zoning bylaw amendment.
Rossland city staff is currently working on the OCP Amendment bylaw for a new Development Permit area for the Old Cooke Ave School site.
The Development Permit Area will contain guidelines for form and character of the development.
Staff propose the following approximate schedule for bylaw review. The applicant is aware and agreeable to the timelines.
- December 2013 – Council review Development permit Area guidelines.
- December - January 2014 – Review guidelines with interested stakeholders (Design Review, Neighbourhood, Developer)
- Late January – February 2014 - Council give first reading to OCP and Zoning bylaw amendments.
- February – March 2014 - Public Hearing for OCP and Zoning Bylaw Amendments