Trail city council has voted 6-1 in favour of a zoning amendment to allow a five-storey, 45-unit seniors housing complex to be built behind Waneta Plaza.
Mayor Lisa Pasin says it followed a “robust discussion” Monday evening about the proposal.
Neighbours raised several concerns, including the impact of traffic, parking, and construction as well as aesthetics, affordability, and the building’s height.
“Some of the concerns could be valid and others were not relevant to the application,” Pasin says. “Each councillor spoke to their thoughts on the project and they decided there is a need for housing in this city. We need to diversify our housing stock and offer options for seniors.”
Pasin agreed traffic will increase because there will be more homes, but said parking is not an issue because the plan meets the required number of stalls.
She says there is always some disturbance to neighbours during construction, but if there is any damage to homes as a result, it is the developer’s and contractor’s responsibility to address.
She also says it is possible that some neighbours might lose their view or sun exposure because the building is projected to be 20 metres tall, but it remains to be seen. Pasin adds that there should be sufficient water to serve the building and as a private development, it is not for council to say how much the units should cost.
As for aesthetics, “It is a larger facility and will have to see what final design looks like. But we weren’t voting on aesthetics. We were voting on a zoning amendment to increase density. What is the greatest good for the community? It was a land use decision and the majority of council voted to approve the zoning as put forward.”
The lone nay vote was from councillor Sandy Santori, who had concerns over access and increased density.
Pasin said further staff approvals will be required to make sure the project complies with zoning, but she does not expect it to come before council again unless a problem arises.
Some of the concerns expressed by neighbours could be addressed in the development permit, she adds.
“There are things that can change and we will be getting refined plans,” Pasin said, noting that the development has to meet all requirements of the BC Building Code.
Developer Cezary Ksiazek will now proceed to detailed design work.
Ksiazek says he was relieved with council’s decision, noting that a similar proposal he had in Rossland was rejected.
“I was very disappointed but I’m very, very happy that council from Trail has a little bit different view,” he says, adding that he didn’t know which way council was leaning. “I wasn’t sure because I don’t have a crystal ball.”
In addition to completing further design and a geotechnical report on the site, Ksiazek says he wants to hear from local seniors about their wishes.
“I have to do whatever is possible to involve seniors of Trail in this project — doesn’t matter if they want to live in this building or not — to give me some ideas, some guidelines. Maybe I have to make some changes. I will be only one resident in this building. I have to talk with other people. Maybe they have different preferences than me.”
Ksiazek says he is also searching for a general contractor to construct the building.
As for the concerns raised, Ksiazek says it is typical in every community. “Always you see people who are against projects … If you listen to people who oppose it, you have no chance to build anything.”
Ksiazek said increased traffic should not be a problem, because the seniors who will live in the building will not be commuting to work each day and he predicts it will be faster to walk to Waneta Plaza than to drive there once he puts in a sidewalk.
Ksiazek disagreed that the building will intrude on neighbors’ privacy, block their morning sun, or tax the water system: “This is absolutely not true. The water issue, absolutely not true. Basically, all of these issues were no issue.”