A proposal for a 40-unit seniors development ran into a brick wall at Rossland City Council June 21.
Developer Cezary Ksiazek failed to get an amendment to the rezoning bylaw for the former Cook Avenue School property to accomodate a high-density seniors development.
The building was to be reserved for seniors age 55-plus, and included plans for six one-bedroom, 29 two-bedroom, and five three-bedroom units, complete with underground parking and two elevators, wheelchair-accessible rooms, a clubhouse at the top of the building where seniors can socialize, and a garden surrounding the property.
However, after much discussion, it was just too big for council to give the go-ahead.
“We can’t let our desire to have diversified housing shoe-horn something in there that we really don’t want,” said Coun. Dirk Lewis. “I don’t think it’s fair to ask staff to be creative, I think the developer needs to be creative within the boundaries the city has put forward.”
The proposed building did not meet the current zoning or the R3 multi-family zoning available under the current Zoning bylaw with a maximum of 24-units.
The proposed floor area ratio is also double (2.0) that allowed under R3 zoning (1.0) and the parcel coverage is greater than the allowed 50 per cent.
Mayor Kathy Moore said, “It’s a wonderful site and it would be fantastic to have a seniors facility there if possible.”
Coun. Stewart Spooner also recognized the need for seniors affordable housing and put forward a motion that read: “Council direct staff to work with the applicant, regarding the property development off Thompson Ave., to develop a proposal for a multi-unit development that meets the requirements of the OCP, market demand, and feedback received.”
For Ksiazek, the size of the building is necessary in order to keep the prices low for seniors, and, at the time of the interview, said he wasn’t prepared to redesign the Cook Ave. project.
“If we do 20 units, we still need two elevators, and they will have to pay more,” said Ksiazek. “We need 40 units to make it affordable.”
Ksiazek also said that if a group of Rossland seniors organized and made a list of potential buyers or renters that would indicate to council how vital the need is, then he may look at it again.
“I give up, I give up, there is no question about it. But, if a group of seniors create something, go to the city, then we could talk about it.”
After many attempts at trying to develop the property, a frustrated Ksiazek says he’s going to build a modified version of the seniors development near the Waneta Plaza in Trail.
“It will be very much like this, but with a beautiful view of ski hill, and from here you can basically walk to the mall. I want to do exactly the same.”
City planner Stacey Lightbourne told council that staff advised the developer to try to meet city guidelines, and presented the proposal to council despite reservations. She also advised council that there are ways to make the design more palatable, particularly for the single-family homes that populate the neighbourhood.
“All we can do as council is turn this back to the developer and staff and say you guys try to work something out,” said Moore. “If the only thing that’s going to work on this lot is a 40-unit apartment complex and three four-plexes then we have a problem, because I don’t think that’s going to be something we’re going to likely approve.”