The District of Sparwood has dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s to allow for the development of affordable housing at 400 Evergreen Crescent on land which it re-zoned back in November 2020.
District councillors voted to approve three variances to district bylaws which would allow up to 30 units to be built on the small parcel of land bordering parkland.
The variances were to the land parcel area (allowing 30 units on two parcels with a combined are of 3720 square metres), the minimum apartment unit area, and to off-street parking.
Under district bylaws, parking allocation must be 1.5 spaces per unit, but councillors approved reducing it to 1.26 spaces per unit, or one space per unit plus eight visitor spaces. According to the staff report, given the development is with 800m of downtown Sparwood and the area was deemed walkable, the reduction was acceptable.
Director of Planning and Development with the district, Patrick Sorfleet explained that in regards to the land parcel size and unit size, the district’s requirements for minimums were larger than BC Housing requirements, meaning the variances would bring the development into line with provincial regulations.
For one bedroom units, of which 11 are proposed in the development, the district’s minimum floor plan is 600 square feet, but the variance will allow for 453 square feet. Two and three bedroom units are required to be at least 800 square feet according to the district, but the variance will allow for between 694 and and 753 square feet for two-bedroom units, and 915 square feet for three-bedroom units. The development will have 12 two-bedroom units and seven three-bedroom units.
No submissions were received in regards to the variances, and they were all approved unanimously by council members.
“We’ve cleared the way for that project to proceed whenever they (the Elk Valley Family Society, which is securing funding and will manage the facility) are ready,” said Sparwood Mayor David Wilks.
Wilks said that there was a need for additional housing in Sparwood.
“Our vacancy rates are very very low, and there are a number of people who could live more comfortably in affordable housing units as opposed to how they’re living now,” he said, explaining that many Sparwood residents were stretching themselves thin in order to afford a roof over their heads.
“They have to sacrifice for their rent, and that should never be the case, so we’re hoping these affordable housing units are able to be used by seniors and those that are struggling to stay afloat.”
The development has been designed by Calgary-based company Ziedler Architecture, and is a four-story wood-frame design. Besides the 30 units and 38 parking spaces, it will include a small common room and outdoor amenity area.