WHO DESERVES to live on riverfront property in Kamloops?
It would seem, based on a recent City of Kamloops’ council decision to move forward with a public hearing, that the City thinks the best use of riverfront property is single-family residential lots.
In the Aug. 14 council meeting, they called for a public hearing to rezone the former Thrupp Manor property into five single-family residential lots. The riverfront property at 571 and 591 Royal Avenue has been vacant since the City purchased the property from Thrupp Manor a decade ago.
The public hearing is not being done on request of a private land owner. The City is the owner of the property. It is the City itself who is asking for the empty property to be subdivided and prepared for five single family homes. One must remember that City staff has put forward the five-lot subdivision as what they think is the best use of the land, but City Council must go into the public hearing with an open mind, and be willing to listen to community input.
The City is proposing that the empty property be made into five single-family residential lots.
Waterfront property is always a scarce commodity, in Kamloops, and elsewhere. It is in limited supply. And the City Council is moving ahead with a public hearing on the rezoning to provide five more single-family lots on the waterfront.
Good for people who want a single-family home on a waterfront lot, but what about everyone else?
In Kamloops, 25 per cent of people live by themselves. That is, one in four households are one person households. Over one in five people in Kamloops are 65 years or older. We have an aging demographic.
At the same time, one in six households live in condominium rather than fee-simple housing. All of these numbers suggest a sizable number of people in Kamloops want the options of multi-family housing.
Kamloops households are getting smaller and older. But if this rezoning goes ahead, City Council will chose to replicate a city vision out of the 1950s. They will take the unimaginative approach of replicating a 1950s housing model, rather than being forward thinking, allowing for multi-family residential on the site.
City council would also be ignoring what people want. In 2017, there were 210 building permits issued for single family dwellings, compared to 469 for multi-family. So far, for the first half of 2018, the trend continues, with 125 single family dwellings versus 171 multi-family.
Almost none of Kamloops’ riverfront properties is multi-family residential. Riverfront property is precious. But that is no reason that almost all of it should be dedicated to single family residential homes. Currently, almost no parcels of land on the river are set aside for condominiums or townhouses. Why should there not be more waterfront housing options for singles, seniors, and people who want a simpler lifestyle or a smaller home?
Currently, almost every residential waterfront property in Kamloops is single family residential.
In downtown Kamloops, from Riverside Park to the Yellowhead Bridge, only one property is multi-residential, an apartment/townhouse complex on Lorne Street at 10thAvenue.
From the Yellowhead Bridge to the end of Dallas, there is just one property that is multi residential, a small mobile home park underneath the bridge.
In Rayleigh and Heffley Creek, there are no multi-family residential parcels of land on the river.
From the start of Schubert Drive, through all of Westsyde, the only multi-family residential parcel on the river is at Oakhills Mobile Home Park. This parcel, which is cut off from the river by a high dike, was completely submerged in the flood of 1972, likely making other types of housing unsuitable.
From the airport all the way to the meeting of the rivers on the North Shore, there are less than a dozen properties that are multi-family residential.
So in all of Kamloops, in the vast city, with many kilometers of riverfront, far less than 20 properties are zoned for multi-family residential.
Why should waterfront property be almost completely zoned for single-family residential? Why should people with other types of housing needs be completely forgotten by City council?
And the answer is that it shouldn’t.
Land zoning should reflect the community we are, and the community we want to become. Favoring single family residential on the waterfront over all other types of housing, presupposes the types of housing people want and the types of people who should have access to live on the river.
Our city is changing. Families are smaller and one in four of us live by ourselves. We are collectively getting older. Yet there are almost no options for living on the waterfront except single-family residential homes.
While there are hundreds of lots on the river, only a handful are zoned for multi-family residential. And with this latest move by City council, it looks like yet again, people who want options other than a single-family residence are being forgotten.
The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at Valley First Lounge, Sandman Centre, 300 Lorne Street. If you think more waterfront multi-family residential housing should be available, come and raise your concern. City council will be there to listen.
Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.