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City approves form and character of new women’s transition house

The city recently approved the development permit for the Women’s Transition House to be located on 19th Street north of 68th Avenue.

The form and character of a new women’s transition house was subject to city council scrutiny as it weighed in on the potential new development.

On Monday July 17 in council chambers the city approved the development permit for the Women’s Transition House to be located on 19th Street north of 68th Avenue.

The only need was to address its form and character, with the rest of the project already fulfilling the cross-section of criteria outlined by the city.

“If I am I to understand correctly, this development application has met every element of criteria required of it other than form and character, which we are endeavouring to look at to see if there are any possibilities of questionability on it,” said mayor Frank Konrad.

There was an expectation there will still be some back and forth between the city and the architect to nail down the design of the project.

City staff reviewed development permit area criteria and determined that the proposed project exceeded the stated requirements, and “further shows how collaborative efforts can build a model of sustainability, inclusivity and community development envisioned in the Sustainable Community Plan.”

In addition to DPA issues, the city reviewed the requirements of the Zoning Bylaw and considered the proposed use to be compatible with R-3 zoning.

“The proposed development is a strong example of inclusive, sustainable development that meets community needs and is in alignment with council’s strategic plan objective of advocating for our most vulnerable residents while working with partners to ensure a long-term solution,” read a city staff report on the subject.

The city received the development permit application from Cover Architectural Collaborative Inc. (Cover) for a proposed women’s transition house to be located on 19th Street between 68th Ave. and 70th Ave.

The subject property is an undeveloped ‘L’-shaped level lot approximately 0.923 hectares in size. There is ready access to water, sewer and electrical services and the proposed building site is on the easterly portion of the property against 19th Street, and the development is a single-story, wood frame building with parking and amenity space.

The transition house will be operated by the Boundary Women’s Coalition (BWC) and will provide a minimum of six transition house beds that “ensure safe, secure shelter and support services for women and children at risk of violence and/or who have experienced violence,” read a city staff report to council.

According to the impetus behind the application, the current transition house was deemed an aging building that has continuing maintenance issues and was insufficient for the BWC’s requirements for the transition house.

The city’s development permit area established guidelines to require multiple-housing developments to be considered attractive and visually compatible with the surrounding area.

It was a major concern of council. Coun. Julia Butler hoped the new building would not look “institutional.

“I hoped it would look like more of a residence and blend in with the neighbouring area,” she said, referencing the drawings handed in to council.

In listening to the architect at the committee-of-the-whole meeting what was given was a conceptual drawing, said Coun. Christine Thompson.

“So I think it will fit into the area,” she said.

The new Transition House, developed with BC Housing and the Boundary Women's Coalition, will be a single story residential building with offices for support staff, said Lukas Armstrong, principal with Cover and agent for the development. He said it would also contain outreach offices.

As for the design, the building design is expected to be wood frame construction, clad in a combination of wood and stucco. BC Housing has required that the building reach “Step 4” of the new energy guidelines recently released by the province.

Cover Architecture intends that the building go one step better and achieve passive house (PH) certification, said Armstrong. PH certification results in a building that uses 80-90 per cent less energy than code level construction, for approximately a 10 per cent increase in construction costs.

“There is also the potential to achieve NetZero Energy through the use of solar panels, if there is budget to do so,” he told council.

The super insulated walls and the high performance windows result in a very acoustically quiet building, Armstrong added, with zero drafts. The advance Heat Recovery Ventilators ensure high levels of oxygen in every room with minimal heat loss.

The exterior finishes will be zero maintenance, with the advanced envelope resulting in a building with over a 200-year lifespan.

In order to assist with irrigation, there will be the potential to capture storm water on site, while landscape elements will be developed using xeriscaping strategies. There is the intention to include a garden on site for use by the clients.

The city’s development permit area designation deals only with issues of “form and character” and related — with council authority firmly limited to feedback on the considerations.