Market rental housing proposed for Fernie
By Erin Knutson
The City of Fernie approved the application on behalf of First Pac West Group to amend a zoning bylaw to help create more affordable housing in the area at their Monday (Jan. 11) council meeting.
Following last Monday’s decision, the motion will proceed to a public hearing phase.
Zoning Bylaw No. 1750 would be amended to add an R-5R – Multi-Family Residential Rental zone, transforming the bylaw from an RA1- Resort Accommodation Subzone to include residential uses as well.
The motion also included taking 90 Castle Mountain Road from a CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) zone to the new R-5R zone.
The amendment would alter the resort-oriented zoning currently provided in the bylaw, which allows for a golf course and commercial and hotel development to make room for First Pac West’s proposed residential development.
According to a staff report provided to mayor and council, with the unlikely event of a golf course, land use would potentially forfeit to the housing proposal.
The new bylaw would help Fernie meet its affordable housing goals by creating market rental housing.
Two-thirds of the units in the proposal are required to be used as rentals to secure rental tenure. According to the report, the units’ realization is contingent on a ‘covenant for title’ that will run in perpetuity as approved by the city.
“These are mixed rentals, and they are consistent with our Official Community Plan (OCP), which stipulates that 15% of the development must be for rental housing. In this case, 66% are for rental units, which far exceeds the minimum standard,” said Manager of Planning for the City of Fernie Patrick Sorfleet.
First Pac West is proposing a 72-unit bare land strata rental unit development for phased servicing that would provide “purpose-built longer-term rental accommodation.”
“We can self-manage these rental units and work with the City of Fernie pending the rezoning of the property to advance the project in 2021,” said First Pac West CEO Tammy Monsell in a letter to council.
The company’s application specifies that market rental housing would attract new members to the community and improve employee recruitment and retention with more viable housing options.
Of those to benefit from the proposal, college students, seniors on a fixed income, single-parent families, moderate to low-income families, low-income single people, and seasonal employees were among those listed.
“The proposed change to residential uses and more specifically to rental tenure (i.e., rental housing) for a large portion of units is a positive and practical change that helps meet the goals of our OCP,” said the staff report.
In its letter to council, First Pac West stated that it would improve affordable tenant housing in Fernie, which aligns with diversified and inclusive housing champions in the community, including the Fernie Chamber of Commerce.
“We support moving this development forward. The lack of multi-family housing developments and affordable housing in Fernie has become a serious problem for the local business community to attract and retain a stable workforce here, ” said Brad Parsell, executive director at the chamber.
Lead image: The subject property outlined. City of Fernie council agenda