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Council supports proposed student housing complex on Ospika

Vancouver-based developer planning 256-unit, four-storey housing complex at corner of Ospika and Tyner Boulevards
11 Student housing WEB
The Hub Collection Ltd. is proposing to build a 256-unit student housing building at the corner of Tyner and Ospika Boulevards.

City council showed their support for a controversial student housing complex at the corner of Ospika and Tyner Boulevards on Monday night.

The Hub Collection Ltd. is seeking to build a 256-unit, four-story student housing complex on a 5.6 acre lot located between Tyner, Ospika and Sullivan Crescent. City council approved third readings for bylaws to amend the Official Community Plan and rezone the site – located at 4500 Ospika Boulevard – on Monday night. Final approval of the bylaws was withheld until the city receives a third-party review of a geotechnical report from the developer.

"I think the applicant has put a lot of thought into being good neighbours,. It's a good-looking development," Coun. Kyle Sampson said. "My biggest concern is still the traffic."

The only planned road access into and out of the development will be on the northbound side of Ospika Boulevard, a spokesperson for The Hub Collection Ltd. said during a presentation to city council.

Ospika Boulevard is a busy street, and Sampson said he's concerned the inconvenient access to and from the site will encourage residents to make illegal u-turns at the intersections of Ospika and Tyner, and Ospika and Davis Road.

"I'm worried about people cutting corners... to save five minutes going to UNBC," he said.

However, Sampson said, he wasn't in a position to second-guess the traffic study done by the developer, which didn't indicate any traffic issues as a result of the project.

Ultimately, it will promote Prince George as a place to get a post-secondary education, he said, and hopefully some of those young people will chose to stay in the city when they've completed their studies.

"I think it is going to be a great home for a lot of students," Sampson said.

Several members of council voiced similar thoughts, supporting the project despite some misgivings about the road access to the site.

"One of the things we need to consider is who this building is for," Coun. Cori Ramsay said. "Students are not going to pay to park at UNBC and CNC all day when they can take the bus for free."

The developer has committed to only develop 35 per cent of the site, and leave the majority of the trees and a seasonal runoff stream on the site undisturbed, Ramsay added.

Coun. Terri McConnachie said she understands the concerns from the neighbours about the infrastructure to support new developments, but "they can't be something that roadblocks growth and development."

"This is perfect infill development. That whole area is going to grow substantially," McConnachie said. "It's going to be fantastic. I think it would be short-sighted not to support this."

Only Coun. Brian Skakun voted against the project, which drew opposition from neighbourhood residents

During the public consultation period from March 12 to April 9, the city received 26 letters and a 21-name petition against the proposal and nine letters in support. The applicant also submitted a petition with over 40 signatures in favour of the project, however only 31 of the signatories were from Prince George.

He said a student housing complex is a great fit for the community, but he is concerned about the amount of traffic that will be diverted down Baker and Davis Roads because of the lack of access off of Tyner Boulevard.

"I will not support this project because of that," Skakun said. "There are other sites that the city can work with the developer on."