Today’s Poll

Why council re-zoned Choquette Avenue for condos, and why neighbours opposed it

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
April 15th, 2014

On April 7, Nelson City Council voted to rezone the property at 2000 Choquette Avenue near the golf course to allow West Creek Developments to build a multi-unit residential development of up to 30 units.

The zoning will change from P1: Park, Open and Recreational Space to R2, Medium Density Residential.

At a public hearing before the meeting, about 40 Rosemont residents attended and about a dozen spoke, all in opposition to the rezoning. Their objections can be summarized as follows:

  • Residents do not trust the traffic study done by the developer because it was done at an unrepresentative time of year, namely in December after a snowstorm.
  • The steep narrow street down Choquette to West Richards with no sidewalks is dangerous and should not be expected to take more traffic. Heavy traffic at Rosemont School amplifies this problem at certain times of day.
  • Proposed buildings are situated so that for some current residents the view of the lake and the sunset will be blocked, and for others there will be new residents looking down into their back yards and decks.
  • Phased construction will mean construction noise in the neighbourhood possibly for years.
  • Densification might be appropriate in more central areas of town, but not in a semi-rural area such as this because densification is usually associated with walkability, in proximity to shops, transit, and amenities.
  • There is no clear indication of demand for this housing. Some residents pointed to Nelson Commons’ difficulty in selling condos, and the fact that Nelson Landing is having to phase its construction in over time.

“I had hoped and wished,” said long time Rosemont resident Richard Metzner after the re-zoning decision,  “that our government that was elected by the people to represent the people would have done just that. All we wanted was a compromise, not a rubber stamp. The compromise would be to have them two storeys high.”

All council members voted in favour of the rezoning except Councillor Robin Cherbo, who opposed it.

This week The Nelson Daily asked Mayor John Dooley and Councillors Candace Batycki, Donna Macdonald, and Deb Kozak why they supported the rezoning and a summary of their responses follows:

  • The golf course approached council several years ago, saying they were hoping to develop housing to sustain their business. The golf club’s proposal was to create dense housing areas with the highest concentration around the golf club where neighbourhood commercial services will be built.
  • Councillor Macdonald said the development would be “a village concept that builds on smart growth principles … including effective use of land (not sprawl), energy efficient design, on site stormwater management, walkability, etc.”
  • The Official Community Plan designates the golf course area for residential development.
  • Zoning it for single family would mean housing for only a few higher-income families. The proposed design gives more people access at more affordable prices.
  • The city needs the tax revenue and the jobs. “As far as I am concerned if you are not going forward you are going backwards,” said Mayor Dooley. “We need the housing, and we need the jobs they create.”

Councillor Robin Cherbo, the only councillor to vote against the rezoning said, “The issues are parking and traffic on a narrow road especially in winter, and the intersection to the Rosemont School and West Richards Street. A sidewalk is going to be put in, but who is going to plow it in the winter?

“The area started with 4-plex,” Cherbo continued, “then 8-plex and now 10-plex and up to 30 units, which could be 60 vehicles, and no improvement planned for the roads or intersections in the area.”

Councillor MacDonald said, “As with any change, there will be impacts on existing neighbours. One of the main concerns identified by neighbours was traffic and parking, and the need for a sidewalk. Clearly the city has some work to do on addressing those concerns.”

The city and the developer might exchange a sidewalk for greater building height. The current maximum height under the new zoning is 12 meters. But if the city allows a variance permitting an extension to 15 meters and a total combined density of 30 or more dwelling units, the developer will provide 48 meters of sidewalk along Choquette.

Categories: GeneralPolitics