Former Rossland mayor Jackie Drysdale urged council take another look at the seniors housing project proposed for the Cooke Avenue School site.
Drysdale met with council on Aug. 9 as a delegate advocating for a high-density 40-unit development that is ideal for seniors who wish to live independently in Rossland.
The former teacher did her homework and reviewed census data, reports on seniors and affordable housing, as well as watch the June 21 council meeting that voted against developer’s Cezary Ksiazek’s request to amend a rezoning bylaw that would accommodate 40-units instead of the maximum 24.
Drysdale met with Ksiazek to see his plans first hand and visit the proposed location. For the 46-year Rossland resident, the development seemed ideal for seniors with its many amenities, close proximity to downtown and potential affordability.
“(It’s) not a set of apartments but a place that would allow residents to easily and seemlessly connect with each other while maintaining their independance,” said Drysdale.
Currently there are more than 1,000 seniors age 55 to 85 that reside in Rossland, and one of the only other seniors’ residence, Esling Park Lodge, is at capacity with 58 people on a waiting list.
Drysdale also pointed out that the timing was good given the city was currently revamping its Official Community Plan (OCP).
“Parcel B of the old Cooke Ave. School grounds is the only place large enough in Rossland for this facility,” said Drysdale. “The facility has everything that an independent person, living currently in a home in Rossland could ask for.”
Coun. Stewart Spooner responded by reminding Drysdale that council was flexible and recommended that city staff work with the developer to amend his plan.
“We are open to being creative and flexible and coming up with a site specific zoning for that site, but it takes two to tango,” said Spooner.
“The developer, from my understanding, had a bit of a take it or leave it approach, this is what he wanted to do, what he thought was economically to his advantage, and that didn’t meet the complicated requirements of our official community plan, the many different things we have to consider.”
Ksiazek has had a long history with the Cooke Ave property. Originally purchased in 2011 by investors, the zoning on the site changed from public institutional to mixed residential in 2014. Ksiazek originally proposed to build six fourplexes on the site, but gave up after running into road blocks.
In 2019, seniors housing became part of the mix with one building planned for 55-plus and three fourplexes for young families, however, it too did not come to fruition.
Ksiazek’s most recent proposal was the 40-unit seniors complex comprised of six one-bedroom, 29 two-bedroom, and five three-bedroom units, complete with underground parking, two elevators, wheelchair-accessible rooms, a clubhouse, and a garden surrounding the property.
However, Ksiazek told the Rossland News that he would not revisit the project, and is currently looking to develop a similar seniors building in Trail.
Mayor Kathy Moore ended the session by confirming that the city is still interested in expanding its senior housing inventory, but one that adheres to Rossland’s OCP.
“We would definitely like to see it, we are very supportive of seniors housing and we like the idea, there were just some features in the proposal that were against our rules,” said Moore.