Affordable housing project one step closer to reality for heart of Barriere

The regular meeting of the District of Barriere Municipal Council last Monday, Aug. 12, saw a number of area residents turn out to attend the Public Hearing part of the meeting regarding Zoning Bylaw No. 111, Amendment Bylaw No. 170.

The proposed bylaw will change the zoning on property owned by the District of Barriere so that a residential three storey affordable housing building could be built there at some time in the future if the opportunity to do so came along.

As the land stands at this time a three story commercial building can be built, or a three storey building with the first floor commercial and the other floors residential. By changing the zoning, the District will be preparing the way for an affordable housing structure that does not require commercial within the structure unless the owner of the project wishes to do so.

Mayor Stamer explained that the public hearing was to give members of the community an opportunity to give their views on the zoning change before it went to second and third reading.

One of the residents asked if the Mayor would define “affordable housing”? “How many stories? And what kind of tenants?”

Stamer answered that three stories is the limit right now noting, “If we want to go higher we would have to look at fire protection and that would be part of the proposal. He also noted that the Yellowhead Community Services affordable housing apartment in Clearwater is a mix of one and two bedroom units for singles, families and seniors and is in the downtown core of that community.

Councilor Kershaw commented, “We have no plan for any building at this point, we are just preparing the plan and refining it for the future so something like this could be built on the site. Having a piece of property with the correct zoning ready to go.”

Council was asked, “Would a grant cover the entire cost of the building?”

Mayor Stamer noted that in Clearwater, Yellowhead Community Services paid for the land, the District covered the permits and bylaw costs, and the Community Forest up there contributed.

It was noted that perhaps a plan for Barriere in the future might be able to do something similar, and available grants would be considered.

A resident who’s home would be directly behind such a building protested that he did not want people looking down into his back yard and that he had lived there for a very long time and was quite upset about the prospect of such a structure in the heart of Barriere.

Council noted that due to the size of the property there is enough room for two such buildings with approximately 30 units in each and still ample parking for the whole complex. They also noted that residents in the immediate area would be taken into consideration if and when building designs are made and approved; noting, “this is part of moving forward”.

Another stated, “ We don’t want it to attract people who can’t pay the rent or are dealing drugs.”

A resident who’s property is also in the immediate area stated, “Development is part of life. You can never please everyone, but if we want to move ahead you have to please everyone you can. And yes, it will be looking down into my back yard.”

Another resident of the area stated, “There needs to be change in this community. You go up to Clearwater and it has development and is booming, but our downtown core is sad, and that needs to be changed. The apartment in Clearwater is beautiful, it’s nice and it raises the spirits of everyone.”

When no other comments were forthcoming from the public, council approved the second reading of Zoning Bylaw No. 111, Amendment Bylaw No. 170.

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