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HomeRegional NewsNewsUPDATED: Castlegar approves Brandson Park rezoning

UPDATED: Castlegar approves Brandson Park rezoning

Castlegar city council has voted 6-1 in favour of rezoning Brandson Park for a mixed-use development.

The rezoning clears the way for the sale of city-owned land to a developer to build a three storey, 54-unit residential-commercial building. A park will be maintained on the site, about two-thirds of the size of the present one.

Several councillors called it one of the most difficult decisions they have ever made, but said they felt the need for housing was urgent, and that the new park, albeit smaller, could be better than the existing one.

“Is the loss of 33 per cent of the park a reasonable loss for a need that is housing?” councillor Maria McFaddin asked.

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“I will be voting in the affirmative but I did not come to this decision lightly. I came to it with a whole lot of loss of sleep and a lot of thought about what our community needs.”

At a public hearing last month that lasted more than four hours, over 35 people spoke, with most urging council to turn down the application and maintain the park at its current size.

However, councillor Cherryl MacLeod said that public opinion is actually much less one-sided than it appeared to be.

“I have had two people in this community come up to me and tell me they don’t think it’s a good idea,” she said. “Everybody else who has seen me at work, out and about, and I’m a pretty out there person, has said to me ‘Cherryl, stay the course.'”

MacLeod said people in the neighbourhood told her they would not share their views publicly, however, “because the neighbors had made it really uncomfortable for them to voice their opinion.”

Mayor Kirk Duff, who has been on council off and on since the early 1990s, says this issue “ranks up there as one of two top most participated-in events, politically speaking.”

“Change is going to happen whether we agree or don’t agree,” he said. “We have to keep up with the growing demand in our community.”

Duff added that other such housing developments may be on the horizon.

“All the work that has been done over the last few years has been leading to these types of decisions. This is the first big one in recent memory to test our commitment to what we say we want.”

Only councillor Bergen Price spoke against the rezoning.

“Seeing something like this go down is just such a Castlegar thing to do,” he said. “What is our long-term, 50 to 60 year plan, rather than just ‘Well, the developer said they want it there, because we’re Castlegar, so let’s put it there’?”

Price said that the plan fails to add foot traffic to downtown but rather makes the town more linear.

“It’s a lack of vision. It’s a shortminded approach to what we should be doing. We should have roots like Trail, Rossland, and Nelson.”

Council also voted tonight to apply several conditions proposed by planning staff, including:

  • That the developer provide as many parking spaces as possible along 24th Street fronting the development and in front of Brandson Park on 6th Avenue.
  • That the developer provide an easement to ensure public access to the green space within the proposed development.
  • That the remaining portion of Brandson Park be dedicated as park land by bylaw.
  • That council talk to the community about how it would like to replace or repurpose the playground equipment current at Brandson Park.
  • That council talk to local historians and community members to capture the story of the Bob Brandson Memorial Pool that used to be on the site with historical signage similar to that at city hall and Millennium Park.
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