Council approves rezoning for apartment complex

A proposed 192-unit rental housing complex can proceed, following a decision by city council Monday night to rezone the location on Southridge Avenue and Marleau Road.

The developer expects to begin clearing and preparing the site - located behind Walmart - this year, with construction of the first of four phases likely to start next year. The project will provide new rental housing, suitable for seniors, Fergus Foley of Access Engineering Consultants said.

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"These apartments are geared at mid-range rentals," Foley said. "They're within walking distance to a lot of services."

Foley was acting as a consultant for the property owner, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Prince Rupert.

The slope of the site means it wouldn't be a good fit for single-family homes or townhouses, he added.

"You really need a large structure to hold back the soil," he said.

The apartment complex will include an underground parking structure, which will act like "a concrete bunker" to stabilize the site, Fergus added.

"Most communities are looking for ways to enhance and add more rental housing..." Coun. Murry Krause said.

However, at least one area resident wasn't thrilled by the prospect.

St. Francis Court resident Greg Kauk said he informally canvassed some of his neighbours and many had concerns about the development.

"We're not so certain an apartment building would be appropriate for this neighbourhood," Kauk said.

Kauk said he, and those he spoke to, felt a townhouse complex or single-family homes would be more in character with the neighbourhood.

Mayor Lyn Hall said he had concerns about the additional traffic the project will bring to the area.

"Marleau (Drive) needs some work," Hall said. "That will become a busier thoroughfare."

Hall said he expects the project will increase the number of vehicles using Marleau Drive to access Highway 16. Improvements are needed to the road to handle the increased traffic, he said.

City general manager of planning and development Ian Wells said some curb and gutter improvements are planned for Marleau Drive.

"(The developer has) completed a traffic study to staff's satisfaction -and a servicing study," Wells said.

While staff supported the project as a one-off development, Wells added, more work needs to be done to determine the road and infrastructure needs to allow the redevelopment of the area.

City council unanimously voted to support the rezoning, however councillors Brian Skakun, Garth Frizzell and Jillian Merrick were absent from the meeting.

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