A conceptual image of a multi-family housing development envisioned by Abugov Kaspar Architects to go on a lot in Castle Mountain in Fernie. (Image courtesy of City of Fernie)

A conceptual image of a multi-family housing development envisioned by Abugov Kaspar Architects to go on a lot in Castle Mountain in Fernie. (Image courtesy of City of Fernie)

Developer withdraws zoning change application in Fernie

Plans to develop more affordable housing in the Castle Mountain neighbourhood appear to be on ice

The applicant behind an application to re-zone a large lot in the Castle Mountain neighbourhood for more affordable housing has withdrawn their application without explanation.

Bruce Abugov, of Bulova Resort Developments wrote to the City of Fernie to withdraw the bylaw amendment application for the development at Whitetail Drive, and cease all further discussion and review on the application. He gave no reason in his letter, but community opposition had been intense.

The application had been to re-zone the lot to allow for the future development of smaller buildings than currently permitted by the lot’s CD3 zoning, which is for commercial development, and was applied when the lot was intended to be part of a resort development. The zoning would have been be switched to multi-family development.

The proposed change would have allowed for smaller, cheaper construction and housing options, with Abugov saying at an April 12 regular council meeting that the intention, should the zoning be changed, was to move forward with a phased development in order to meet Fernie’s housing needs with more affordable options.

Under the previous zoning, the original, unrealised design for the lot would have seen 149 upscale units constructed, with four ‘attainable’ townhouse units build alongside. The new zoning would have seen 188 smaller, affordable units, with a minimum of 30 of the units being reserved for residential tenure.

While housing density would have increased, the developer said in their submission that the smaller units would amount to a decreased building mass, height and site coverage.

Neighbourhood opposition had been significant, with 57 submissions received including a petition of 82 signatures in opposition.

Concerns had been around (among other things) parking, traffic, lack of mechanisms to enforce affordability, height, design, road infrastructure capacity, short term rental use and more. The public hearing went on for over 3.5 hours.

Council deferred making a decision at the time, instead requesting more information on how the city could restrict the use of any future development for short term rentals. The information would have come back to them at the April 26 regular council meeting, but Abugov withdrew the application before then.

The lot remains CD3, with density approved at 156 units. There are no development proposals at this time.

READ MORE: City defers zoning decision



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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