No room for change

The developer of the Cooke Street project won’t renege on his development designs despite an outpouring of neighbourhood concerns.

The developer of the Cooke Street project won’t renege on his development designs despite an outpouring of neighbourhood concerns against the development last week.

Over 40 people turned up in city council chambers last week (Sept. 23) but only eight people spoke to express their thoughts on the 24-unit development slated for the old Cooke Avenue school site.

They cited everything from the height of the four structures, to its density (24 units) to an increase in traffic, to the amount of driveways it would contain, all as safety issues that would not make it a good fit for the neighbourhood.

But developer Cezary Ksiazek said Monday that every design element in the project had been crafted under the guidelines laid out by the city’s Official Community Plan.

The design for the development had already been approved by the city’s planning department, said Ksiazek.

“I will not make changes because four people say something, he said. “It’s not like I’m asking for something special, it’s within the rules.”

The purpose of the Sept. 23 public hearing was to consider the Ksiazek’s request that the city advance a rezone on two large lots located on the former school site to allow a change in zoning from P1—public institutional to CD 6—mixed residential.

Ksiazek was adamant the development conformed to the OCP, including the future projected housing demand for Rossland (page 23, OCP) that is coming as the population swells from 4,623 to 5,055 in 2017.

He said the OCP noted having mixed forms of housing like the development proposed was especially applicable to Rossland due to the limited supply of developable land and its topography.

On page 36 of the OCP it encouraged cluster development to allow the protection of natural features on a site, to minimize the on-site footprint of the development and to minimize the road lengths.

The project also had the support of the Rossland Chamber of Commerce. In a letter from chamber president Paul Gluska, it was noted the “project would create jobs within the community, another economic benefit.

“The Cooke Avenue School project would diversify building stock, create jobs, and attract young families to our community by offering an affordable alternative,” said Gluska in the letter.

The matter will now come back to council and be dealt with in early November.

Previous to this negotiations on the Cooke Street project were put on hold by city council Aug. 12 until the public meeting was held.

It was decided council needed “further clarification on some of the information items in the application,” and the public meeting was set.

The history

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 plan

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.

editor@rosslandnews.com

Letter from Cezary Ksiazek to the City of Rossland

In this letter I want to prove that a rezone of a parcel of land—the former Cooke School—is according to the Official Community Plan and I would like to comment on the citizen of Rossland’s concern about the Cooke School project.

Page 4

The Official Community Plan (OCP) is the city’s vision for the future growth and development of the community and it reflects the ideas and input of the people who live and work in Rossland.

Comment

OCP was created to grow the city of Rossland and attract more people.

Page 9

We are no longer a remote, isolated community; the status quo is no longer a viable option. Our future will depend on our resilience and our capacity for constructive change.

Page 19

In 2007, the City of Rossland had a population of 3,508 people. The permanent population has decreased an average of -1.25 per cent from 2003.

Comment

Building town homes with affordability in mind to attract young families.

Page 21

Draft OCP population predictions: 2012 population 4,623 (prediction)

Comment

Increase population creates impacts to existing traffic. It is impossible increase population without increasing traffic. When the OCP was created everybody knew about this and was not in opposition.

City of Rossland did not meet this prediction for population growth; as a result the high school was closed. We do not have affordable homes to attract young families and keep our seniors in town.

2017 population: 5,055 (prediction) How we can meet this prediction? We have to do something.

Page 23

Projected housing demand for Rossland.

The demand for housing can also be translated into demand for residential land. If all new residential growth were to be in the form of single family suburban lots (i.e. 15 units per net hectare) the land demand for 406 units would be roughly 27 net hectares exclusive of roads, parks and schools. Correspondingly, 642 units would require 43 net hectares.

If the percentage of higher density housing forms were to be increased, the land demand would decrease.

Concurrently the amount of land available for parks, trails and open space would increase. Having mixed forms of housing is especially applicable to Rossland due to the limited supply of developable land and the topographic constraints.

Comment

Cooke School development calls for multi family housing following the recommendations on page 23. Complaining that multi family housing does not fit with the neighborhood is against the OCP.

Page 31

Consider incentives, such as density bonus-ing and DCC credits for development occurring in existing infill sites that are vacant or underutilized.

Comment

Thanks to the OCP everybody can build a duplex on a single lot in the lower part of Rossland. This creates impacts to existing traffic. When the OCP was created everybody knew about this and was not in opposition.

Page 36

Encourage cluster development to allow the protection of natural features on the site, to minimize the on-site footprint of the development and to minimize road lengths.

Comment

The planning department proposition to replace grass with asphalt for parking and build an extra road was opposed to the OCP.

Page 43

The essential role of seniors in Rossland is gratefully acknowledged. It is important that their changing housing needs and support services be recognized and properly addressed within the community.

Comment

Seniors do not need single homes and that is why Cooke School project includes two six-plexes for seniors. Keep our seniors in town.

Conclusion

It is very important to ask the city planning department what engineering study was done on the impacts to existing traffic operation when the OCP was created.

An increase in the city of Rossland’s population from 3,508 in 2007 (page 19 OCP) to 5,055 in 2017 (page 21 OCP) will have more impacts to existing traffic than building 24 units on the former Cooke School site. If the OCP was created and approved and was not a concern about the impacts to existing traffic, why is it now?

Cezary Ksiazek

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