The city’s newest development is still bogged down in the developmental stage as negotiations on the Cooke Street project were put on hold by city council Monday night.
Council struck the request for a decision on the zoning amendment from the agenda for the block once occupied by the former Cooke elementary school. The rezone application and a report from the city’s planning department was supposed to be on city council’s agenda for the Aug. 12 meeting.
It was decided council needed “further clarification on some of the information items in the application.” However, the move created confusion with the developer of the project who was operating on the understanding “most of the issues” had been resolved in a meeting with city staff two weeks ago.
Cezary Ksiazek stepped forward during the public time at the beginning of council’s regular meeting Monday and expressed his confusion and frustration at a further delay on the project.
Three weeks ago in a meeting with city staff members Ksiazek said it took only 20 minutes to resolve all of the outstanding issues blocking the amendment’s approval. But three hours before the council meeting he was told there were issues with the development and it would be taken off the agenda for Aug. 12.
“Maybe somebody tell me to face what kind of issue? We have no issue three weeks ago. Now we have issue three hours before city council meeting?” he said to council. “I won’t give up on this because this is good for the city. We need more people here.”
Mayor Greg Granstrom said council scheduled a committee of the whole meeting for Monday to deal with the application, following on the heels of a special meeting Friday between Ksiazek and city staff.
“There are issues and we want them resolved,” Granstrom said. “We want to cooperate with you and we are there on most of the issues. We want to cooperate with you but we have to do it right.”
Ksiazek has been trying to develop the former Cooke Avenue school site since it was purchased by a trio of local investors in early 2011, but he claims his attempts to bring an “affordable, low cost” development to the city have been slowed by red tape.
The current rezone application first came to light in September, 2011, but it wasn’t until Dec. 10, 2012 that a public hearing was held on the project.
The public hearing was followed by a council committee of the whole meeting Jan. 21, 2013 to discuss the issues raised at the public hearing. Ksiazek again met with the city on Feb. 8 and no common ground was found on the contentious points.
On July 31 Ksiacek met with three city officials—without senior city planner Mike Maturo who was on holidays—on the property to review the proposal’s contentious points as a prelude to the council meeting.
But it was Maturo who has raised the sticking point for the development as it does not address Official Community Plan policies for site development, neighbourhood impact, traffic flow and servicing, according to the city’s planning department.
The development is slated for two large lots to allow mixed residential on what is public institutional, building 24 townhouse units in the form of six, four-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 and at $150 per square foot, including land cost, it is the lowest possible price, said Ksiacek.
Ksiazek has conducted a preliminary review of servicing requirements for the site—a full city block—and is proposing the multiple-family dwellings within the one-block span on the former Cooke Avenue school site now zoned public institutional.