More info needed for senior’s housing project at the Lake

A public hearing was held month regarding the application by the Christina Lake Seniors Housing Society to rezone a parcel of Crown land.

A proposed senior’s housing facility for Christina Lake still has many hurdles to jump before seeing the light of day. A public hearing was held at the Christina Lake Community Hall on Jan. 18 regarding the application by the Christina Lake Seniors Housing Society to rezone a parcel of Crown land for the facility. Based on issues raised at the hearing, staff is recommending the board consider directing staff to hold a second public hearing.

Several of the comments against the proposed amendments raised concerns about what would happen to the land if it was rezoned and the senior housing did not proceed, as well as concerns over parking, access and riparian area protection.

Attending the meeting were Grace McGregor, RKDB director for Area C/ChristinaLake; Jeff Ginalias, senior planner, and Carly Rimell, planner for RDKB; other RDKB staff members; housing society members; and approximately 58 members of the public.

The hearing was for the proposed bylaw No. 1585 to amend Electoral Area C/Christina Lake’s Official Community Plan (OCP) bylaw No. 1250 and proposed bylaw No. 1586 to amend Electoral Area C/Christina Lake Zoning Bylaw No. 1300.

Ginalias summarized the proposed OCP amendment to designate the area, which is 1.076 Ha, as multiple family residential and create a multiple family residential and create a multiple family residential development permit area within the Electoral Area C/Christina Lake OCP bylaw No. 1250 and to rezone this area as multiple family dwelling zone in the Electoral Area C/Christina Lake zoning bylaw No. 1300.

Ginalias also provided an overview of the Seniors Housing Society’s proposal which features a single, two storey building with studio, one bedroom and two bedroom units. He also discussed the history of how they arrived at this proposal and the community outreach which had taken place prior to this bylaw amendment proposal.

He further clarified that adoption of the bylaw did not authorize development and that an appraisal, purchase of the land, survey of the land and development permit would still be required prior to development.

McGregor told the Gazette that they would have information before the next meeting. She said there have already been several public meetings already and there is still a great deal of misinformation being bantied about.

“People just don’t get their facts straight, they don’t read the information and they don’t come out and have the conversation,” said McGregor. “We’ve had many public meetings and we’ll have another to address the issues because we want to make sure people get the right information so they can be informed.”

McGregor said the zoning would need to be approved first before “crunching” any numbers and looking at costs and how the project would be paid for.

Tara Werner attended the meeting and is one of the Christina Lake residents who is opposed to having the seniors project go ahead at that location.

“It’s park land,” she said. “They’re talking about putting it basically right where there is a trail head that takes you right down to a beaver dam that has beaver and otter activity. I use that park. I like to go down and watch the otters play. There are eagles in there and deer.”

Werner is concerned that the development will also need space for parking as well. “It looks like the parking area could encroach where the trail head is. Right now any number of people can drive right up, get out and get right on the trail. It’s super easy access. Seniors use it to walk their pets all the time.”

Werner said the majority of the people at the meeting were opposed to the development and were there to voice their concerns. She is also concerned that the development will be quite pricey and be not affordable for most seniors.

“This is not assisted living,” she said. “This is not subsidized. This is people who can afford water front.”

Donna Dean, manager of planning and development for the RDKB, said that they have looked into many of the questions brought forward at the hearing and will bring those forward at a planned hearing on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Christina Lake Community Hall. There will be an open house before the hearing from 6 until 7 p.m.

“A number of questions were raised,” she said. “Staff have taken a look at those and will come up with some firm answers. One of the concerns was what happens if the senior’s housing development didn’t go forward.”

Dean said that they have the authority to enact a bylaw to allow the land to only be used for seniors. “There are a few different things we can do through that bylaw, through the local government act, such as determine the form of tenure. So is it rental? Are they for sale? Do you purchase or rent the units? You can also make the units available only to a certain type of people. As well as prices and how you would apply for a unit. So we hope that will alleviate some of the concerns raised at the hearing.”


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